Harvey and His Ugly Sister Irma

Sep 14, 2017

Harvey And Irma

Harvey and His Ugly Sister Irma

Gregg Matte, Pastor of Houston's First Baptist Church


When a man named Harvey and his ugly sister Irma came to town, it turned our lives upside down. Uninvited guests are the worst kind — especially when they don’t clean up after themselves. As a result of Harvey, our church, Houston’s First Baptist, has over 20 staff members and hundreds of church members with flooded homes. What do you do when a tragedy like this happens? Here are a few thoughts for the three groups of people who have been affected:

1. Those who made it through basically unscathed.

I’m in this group and have experienced tremendous anxiety, but as the storm has passed, normality has returned. This group must realize that God has protected us to use us. Move past survivor’s guilt and into your Savior’s service. We now have the ability to serve, give, and encourage our friends and neighbors. Don’t let life drift back to business as usual but, instead, walk helpfully into the new normal.

2. Those who were impacted.

  • Grieve. Home is a special place. It is where we celebrate holidays, play with our kids, spend quiet time with the Lord, and host our friends. It’s not materialistic to grieve loss in your home. Sure, many of us can spend too many resources of time and money decorating rooms we never use. Let God reveal to you if your home had become an idol. But, don’t negate the need to grieve the loss of special things and a special place.
  • Humbly learn to receive. Realize the help offered by others is not for someone else. Learn to receive. Many of us, especially those with means, see ourselves as the “givers” not the receivers.” We are far more comfortable helping than being helped. If you miss the lesson of humility in this trial, you’ve missed something big. We have to be humble before we can truly be strong.
  • Release it for His purposes. God has a plan to use this trial for His purpose, so allow Him to do so. If we asked you if it would be worth it to trade hassle, flooring, and sheetrock in order to see churches and communities unified, the President proclaim the Sunday after Harvey a day of prayer, the American conversation to shift to the volunteerism, faith, service, and countless miraculous stories — you would have said, “Yes, it’s worth it.” See your challenges and all of the destruction as a tool for His purposes.

3. All of us.

Love first. In 2 Corinthians 1:5, Paul says, “With the comfort we have received in Christ, we comfort others.” Show the love of Christ first and foremost in your care and service to those in need. Be a differencemaker in your neighborhood and church. We need tens of thousands of people to rise up with love in this time. This needs to be both organic and organizational. Organic is “See a need, meet a need.” — like friends and family stepping forward quickly. Organizational is “Sign up and sent out.” — like the church mobilizing an army for good to help the community. We need both — in droves. God is going to use these storms and us for eternal impact.

You will make it through this and grow in your faith because of it. Keep trusting and serving. And remember — when the rains fall, the church rises!


Follow Pastor Gregg on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Listen to other messages from Pastor Gregg about the impacts of Hurricane Harvey, and learn more about Houston's First Baptist Church's LOVEFIRST Disaster Relief efforts.

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