As of today, hundreds of thousands still remain without power after the wave of storms that hit the region on June 29. And, as USAToday reports: “For those without power, patience wears thin, tempers flare.” It could be Sunday before power is restored to all who had been affected. That being the case, electricity would have been off, for many in the region, for about six or seven days. As bad as that is, and for our American standards, it is indeed bad, it’s always a bit ironic when I hear complaints about being without power for a few days.
I, myself, am one of those fortunate to have electricity. My power was off for a mere two days. Fortunately, life had prepared me for such an experience. Having grown up in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, I am well-versed in living without electricity. When I hear people lament the slow response by PEPCo, BGE, Dominion Power, et al, I find myself reflecting on the several hurricanes and other tropical storms I endured.
Hurricane’s Hugo and Marylin left us without power for about six months each! We learned to live a life without electricity. We went to school and to work. We cooked and bathed. We learned to be civil with each other amidst the stress of having lost those luxuries afforded us by electricity.
So, it’s a little ironic on this 4th of July to celebrate our Independence and the resulting freedoms with power outages still plaguing so many. With all the prevalent stress, we have an opportunity to observe when a blackout shines light on the disinherited.
In this scenario, St. Paul’s words from Romans 12:15 come to mind: “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Having faced the frustrations of living through a heatwave without the benefit of air conditioning, we now have a greater understanding of what it is like for countless millions (in our own Country – much less throughout the world) who live in such conditions. With that understanding, we are better able to weep with those who weep. And, maybe, in celebrating our independence, we might be brought to compassion for the sake of those within our borders and outside, who face such conditions for far longer than a week.
A friend shared with me a question asked of him by his five year old son. Having endured the heat and darkness for several days, the boy asked his father: why did God send that storm? And, like my friend told his son: “I don’t know.” Nevertheless, we know that all the time, God is good. So, maybe this is a possible reason: that we might have greater compassion for the disinherited, the marginalized, the poor – in our midst and throughout the world, who face these conditions on a daily basis.
If your son or daughter had asked you the same question, what would you have said? Why do you think God allowed (or sent) the storm?