The unpleasant truth about life is that storms will come. Storms in multiple varieties – sometimes it is physical, sometimes it is spiritual, sometimes it may be financial – but storms are a part of life and everyone will go through a storm. If we recall the words of Jesus, he indicated that the rain falls on the just and the unjust. He also reminded us to be grounded on the rock rather than sand because the storms of life affect us all. Another statement that Jesus made was, “In the world you will have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
The Bahamas has seen many storms over the years, but this recent storm named Dorian is like none other that we have ever experienced. There is a collective national pain that we all feel, but our friends and family in Abaco and Grand Bahama feel it like none other. Being in a storm is difficult, and in this case, tragic for some. The storm is a fact, the result of the storm is a fact, so the next question is what happens after the storm. Storms can defeat us or strengthen us. Storms reveal what we have on the inside when everything on the outside is gone. What do we do? I cannot begin to fathom what some of our friends and family are going through, but I can empathize, because to some degree I know the feeling.
In 2016, I preached a message about resilience after Hurricane Matthew, after parts of my roof had blown off, after rain had filled my house and my ceilings had collapsed. I encouraged my congregation to be strong, and just after the sermon I arrived at my house and met water up to my ankles on the ground floor. As I made my way upstairs the water levels were high enough for fish to feel comfortable. My furniture was damaged, clothes wet and everything seemed insurmountable at that time. I had to remind myself about what I had just preached. Thankfully I had insurance, but as I began to negotiate with the insurance company I realized that with the deductibles it would be a challenge to rebuild.
During what seemed like despair, small miracles began to happen. It began with calls of encouragement from those who I had encouraged. Many persons who heard of my situation began to offer help even where I did not solicit. It was tough having to live in the one inhabitable room of the house for six weeks – but at the end of it all everything was made new and even better than before. The challenge of the storm gave way to the realization that what may seem like a challenge may actually be an opportunity.
Abaco and Grand Bahama face their greatest challenge – but after the initial pain there is tremendous opportunity. The world has seen our plight, and we in The Bahamas have seen the plight of our brothers and sisters and I believe not only is help on the way, but a brighter day is ahead. In spite of the current situation, we in The Bahamas are a people of hope and faith so even in the seemingly hopeless situations we must believe that better is coming. The new beginning for those who lost property and goods is coming and we expect that both Abaco and Grand Bahama will rebound better than before. I believe that we will rebuild. We will be stronger, and we will be better no matter what the challenge is today.
This is an opportunity for the worst in us to come out or the best in us. We must believe in the best and pursue the best because we never succeed by focusing on the worst and bringing out the worst in us.
After the storm there is hope.
After the storm there is opportunity.
After the storm we will rise, we will recover and we will restore and rebuild.
I am already seeing the best coming out. Our international friends have already indicated their intention to assist us including the United States, United Kingdom and various Caribbean states. Many individuals and groups, particularly from South Florida, expressed their willingness to help and have indicated that help is on the way. Many Bahamians have already risked their lives to assist in rescue efforts, and have shown selflessness and kindness to their neighbors. Teams of doctors, builders, counselors and other professionals are on the way to Abaco and Grand Bahama.
I would like to remind all Bahamians that a challenge is often an opportunity for us to learn, grow and become better. What may seem like a bad ending is often just a new and better beginning. Let us continue to pray for peace of mind for our family in Abaco and Grand Bahama as they have experienced great and unfathomable trauma. Despite this, I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul: “In all these things we are more than conquerors” by our faith. These few days have been difficult days, but we believe the best is ahead of us.
Let us to continue to be “rock people” and not “sand people” as recorded in the story told by our Lord Jesus the Christ. Please also be reminded of the words of our national anthem and let us move forward, onward, upward together.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.