Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
August 30, 2010
I am writing this morning from Shreveport, Louisiana, where I have been privileged to lead a spiritual renewal weekend. It was sobering to be in this state yesterday on the fifth anniversary of Katrina. As you know, the hurricane was the costliest natural disaster in American history.
At least 1,836 people died when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. Economic losses are estimated at $125 billion; 80% of New Orleans was flooded. Many neighborhoods remain desolate and abandoned. Many schools continue to meet in trailers. While three quarters of the pre-Katrina population has returned, more than 100,000 have left New Orleans for good. Then came the oil spill this summer, adding more economic misery for those who live on the Gulf Coast.
Numerous ceremonies were held yesterday to commemorate the victims of Katrina. Gregory Aymond, Achbishop of New Orleans, led one service. He told the congregation, “Where was God five years ago on this day? Here, weeping with us, and trying to console us in the midst of a natural tragedy.” The archbishop was right.
My favorite verse in the Bible is also the shortest verse in Scripture: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). This one statement signifies what is unique about Christianity. Zeus did not weep for the Greeks from his throne high atop Mt. Olympus. Muslims do not believe that Allah weeps for people; Hindus do not view their numerous gods as crying with our pain; Buddhists do not picture a personal god who grieves as we grieve.
But the Son of God, the One who created everything that is and holds it together this moment (Colossians 1:16-17), weeps with us. He cried with Mary and Martha at the grave of their dead brother. He wept over the people of Jerusalem as he grieved their unbelief and sin. He holds us in his hand this moment (John 10:28), so that everything which hurts us must first hurt him.
Wherever you are in pain this morning, know that the King of Kings hurts with you. He reads your mind, knows your thoughts, and feels what you feel. Whatever your Katrina might be, he is with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). And when you weep, he weeps.
Now he calls us to share his compassion with those who need to feel his love in ours. He told us, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
Fulton Sheen (died 1979) was a Roman Catholic Archibishop and one of America’s best-known religious personalities. He imagined this statement from our Lord: “Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?”
Who today will see the tears of Jesus in yours?