By Emily Wells
It has been two weeks since Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas. Here in Montreat, life continued on as normal, except for two days of rain and a short power outage. The eastern part of our state, though, was not as fortunate. Florence dropped a whopping eight trillion gallons of rain on North Carolina, the most of any hurricane that has ever struck the east coast. Hailing from the eastern side of the state myself, the pictures and stories that have surfaced from the aftermath of Florence have really hit home for me.
My hometown of Goldsboro, N.C., which was still recovering from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, received over 14 inches of rain. 5,000 hogs have died and many roads remain closed or underwater. Elizabethtown, in the small rural area of Bladen County where I spend most of my summertime weekends, received the most rain from Florence at over 35 inches, and parts are the county are still experiencing flooding. And some of the most unsettling images are those of the beachfronts all along the coast, where homes and piers have been swept into the sea. Some beaches are still closed to the public and flooding on US Highway 70 has prevented some residents from returning to their homes. Schools remain closed as life slowly crawls back to normal and the thousands affected by Florence begin to piece their lives back together.
It hurts my heart to see so many neighbors across the state suffering from something out of their control. It is also tempting to ask “Why, God?” in the middle of such unexplainable destruction. There is no easy answer, but there is comfort to be found in the strength and resilience God gives his people to bounce back from disaster and glorify Him through a literal storm.
I will share an example of this. I was blessed to be able to attend Wayne Christian School (WCS) in Goldsboro, North Carolina, for second through twelfth grade. WCS is full of faculty members and teachers who seek to glorify Christ and point students towards Him in all they do; they are not just a school, but a family. As they were preparing for Florence, the students gathered in the hallway to lift up the community in prayer and worship through Ryan Stevenson’s song “In the Eye of the Storm.” Chris Verme, the director of the cafeteria, recorded the moment and shared it on Facebook for friends and parents to see. Unexpectedly, the video went viral and now has over three million views. The school’s administrator, Paul Brenner, humbly reflected on this saying, “Isn’t it just like God to use our children to remind our community—and this great nation—of His great love and power?”
I agree with Mr. Brenner’s statement and am convicted by it at the same time. I, too, should strive to have faith like the kids at WCS when disaster strikes. After all, the Lord tells us in Mark 10 that those with the faith like a child will inherit heaven. He also tells us in Luke 8 that he controls the winds and the waves. This is the Lord that I serve, and even when all the images and voices around me shout sadness and devastation, I must remember that, in the words of “In the Eye of the Storm,” “When the storm is raging/And my hope is gone/Even when my flesh is failing/You’re still holding on.”