When I woke up yesterday morning, these words were going through my head: “Some through the waters, some through the flood. . . ”
It took me a minute to realize what the lines were from. I remembered my mother singing the song around the house. It is an old gospel song, “God Leads Us Along.”
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the Blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.
George A. Young, 1903, Public Domain
Of course I was thinking about waters and floods because of the disastrous floods from Hurricane Harvey sweeping over Houston and beyond.
I can’t write glibly that God is in control, and that He will use this tragedy for His glory and for something great and good.
I can’t do that — not because I don’t believe it, but because it is not MY tragedy. I don’t have the right to spiritualize others’ tragedies.
It is not my car whose roof can no longer be seen above water level. Not my family that has lost all its earthly possessions. Not me who had to be rescued from my house. Not me who witnessed the surreal progression of a boat floating up the . . . street.
And I don’t know what I would do if this were my personal tragedy. Would I want to “curse God and die,” as Job’s wife recommended he do when Job lost everything? Or would I have the faith to go on and triumph over the tragedy?
“God Leads Us Along,” acknowledges that we pass through great sorrow. God doesn’t prevent the sorrow. But God gives a song.
And if you read about the song that He gives — in the Psalms and elsewhere — you will know that this is not just a song for the ears. It is a deep song. Deeper even than the floods.
Psalm 42 says, “Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls.” A little too close for comfort to what is happening maybe, it goes on “all your waves and breakers have swept over me.” But then, the Psalm assures us that God is our Rock, and that, “By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me—a prayer to the God of my life.”
Zephaniah prophesies that “the Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” He says that God “will take great delight in you” and that He will “rejoice over you with singing.”
Again, this is not my tragedy. So, is God giving a song to those whose tragedy it is? To the people in the floods of Hurricane Harvey? Are songs, prayers, and laments of faith and grace rising above the merciless pounding anthem of nature?
Yes. God is faithful. There are, of course, those who are exploiting the tragedy for themselves — looting and robbing. But they are a small number. Many more in the floods have shared the songs that God has given to them.
There was the joyful, victorious song of Victoria White. The powerful singer was joined by others, providing beautiful harmony. The video of them ministering to the other flood evacuees at the Lone Star Convention Center in Conroe, Texas has been viewed over 17 million times!
Victoria’s song, “Spirit Break Out,” (Bryant, Dhillon, Hellebronth, and Hughes) was joyfully defiant in the face of homelessness and loss. It transcended the reality of cots, mattresses, and sleeping bags to pray “Spirit break out, Break our walls down, Spirit break out, Heaven come down.” And to declare the reign and rule of God over the convention center, over the world:
King Jesus You’re the name we’re lifting high
Your glory shaking up the earth and skies
Revival we wanna see Your kingdom here
We wanna see Your kingdom here
Don’t be surprised if some wild revival breaks out in Houston in the days to come.
What do I mean? Sorrow for sin and repentance. New love for Jesus and awareness of His love. New love for others — demonstrated in huge outbreaks of generosity and self-sacrifice. JOY — even in the middle of recovering from the devastation of the storm. Not just because of Victoria and her choir’s “sacrifice of praise.” But also because of the other songs that God has put into the hearts of people in the midst of this tragedy.
How about the song of sharing your bread with the hungry (literally, in the case of the employees at the El Bolillo Bakery!), loving your neighbor, giving to those who have nothing, and rescuing those in danger?
That song is resonating in the hearts of neighbors and friends in Texas. Photos show long lines — of people waiting to volunteer, of human chains saving lives, of rescue boats like the Cajun Navy, of Coast Guards and Police (including one who lost his life) and disaster service units from The Salvation Army. It is also mobilizing people from all over the United States, and even all over the world.
What a beautiful song, and what beautiful hands and feet of those who serve.
There are many other songs — of comfort, of love, of courage, of solidarity, of brotherhood, of commitment. . . but let me mention just one more.
Maybe you have seen the video of Jeremiah Richard and his six-year-old son, Jeremiah Jr. talking to a reporter.
The father and son had just been rescued from their flooded apartment and evacuated by helicopter. In the space of an afternoon they have lost car, house, even the new school clothes. They don’t know where they will go. Some videos continue and show Jeremiah’s wife and younger son, who is deaf. This family has lost everything.
But Richard looks straight into the camera and said, “We thank God. We thank God.” The reporter, hearing the family’s situation asks again, “But you’re thankful?” Richard smiles and says, “Yes, we’re thankful. God is good. God is good.”
One person responding to the video remarked that Richard’s little boy “will never forget hearing these words from his dad.” The song that God gave to Jeremiah Richard has touched hundreds of thousands of people. It is the song of a grateful spirit and a thankful heart. It is a song of joy in the middle of tragedy.
God IS good and He is faithful. His love, His mercy, His sustenance endure in spite of devastating loss, tragic circumstances. That’s not abstract theological pronouncement. That is the testimony shining from the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey.
This post is dedicated to my brave and compassionate friends who have been loving their neighbors, rescuing flood victims.