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A Hurricane of Compassion

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of suffering that is caused when natural disasters like Harvey overtake a major city. As Hurricane Harvey passed over Houston, more than 40 are now reported dead and between 30,000 and 40,000 homes destroyed. When I read about a 3-year-old girl found alive in a rain-swollen canal, clinging to the body of her drowned mother, my heart broke. Even so, I never cease to wonder at the way such events bring out the best in human nature. Here are seven examples….

#7 According to KABC, Dr. Stephen Kimmel guided his canoe through waist-high water for at least a mile to get to a Clear Lake-area hospital to perform surgery on a 16-year-old with a life-threatening condition. "I thought if I can do it I certainly should" he said.

#6 A TV reporter helped rescue a truck driver from rising floods in the nick of time. When Brandi Smith of KHOU news first spotted the stranded driver from a highway overpass, she voiced her concern over the man’s safety. She was unsure of what to do until she saw an oncoming car with a rescue boat in tow.

#5 Southwest Airlines transported 500 flood victims from the Houston Hobby Airport to Dallas on Sunday for free. Hundreds of passengers were stranded after the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) had closed the airport to non-emergency air traffic on Sunday morning.

#4 Get this: Beer company Anheuser-Busch has temporarily stopped brewing beer so they can send canned water to emergency storm shelters. Perhaps it’s good advertising, but the company has already shipped over 50,000 cans of drinking water from their brewery in Cartersville, Georgia to Red Cross centers and evacuation points in Louisiana.

#3 Social Media has proved its redemptive role in society as well! 18 seniors were rescued from an assisted living facility in Dickinson, Texas after a photo of themselves sitting in waist-deep water went viral on Twitter.

#2 Airbnb actually changed their rules of service so that Texas users could offer up their place of residence to Hurricane Harvey evacuees for free. This is not the first time Airbnb also waived its service fees in 2015 for Hurricane Matthew evacuees; individuals affected by the Barcelona attacks; and refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war.

#1 Finally, I’ll give a shout out for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance that is deploying National Response Teams into affected regions as it becomes safe to do so. Your designated gifts to PDA are tax deductible, and you can have the assurance that 100% of your donation will go to the people who need help. Let me restate that: No administrative fees will be deducted from your gift. You can read more about the stories above at

In sharing these stories I don’t want to play the fool of Proverbs 25:20: Like vinegar on a wound is one who sings songs to a heavy heart. An excessively cheerful comment can sound shallow, especially when coming from one who is not suffering. That being true, I think the Apostle Paul who was imprisoned and beaten countless times earned the right to say “that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope ….” (Romans 5: 3-5). Moreover, “God consoles us in all our affliction,” says Paul, “so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God” (2 Corinthians 1: 4). How is God calling you to console someone who is experiencing affliction right now? How are you becoming part of his hurricane of compassion?


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