Devon Dick | Understanding Hurricane praying
Why didn't the Jamaican Christians pray for hurricane Matthew to go and travel over the sea? This question was raised by Dr. William Thompson in response to my boast about how some Jamaican prayer warriors caused the hurricane to move from hitting Jamaica.
This discussion took place during a break at the recently concluded Caribbean Baptist Fellowship Executive meeting in Barbados, attended by representatives from the region. Thompson is a Bahamian who pastors a church in Nassau and is the president of the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship. Thompson's query could have been asked by others.
It is always difficult to know how to pray as the early disciples recognised and therefore asked Jesus to teach them how to pray (Luke 11: 1). It is also hard to know what to pray and what is the best course of action, hence Jesus himself prayed 'not my will, but thine, be done' (Luke 22: 42). In fact, this point was forcefully made by a young pastor in St James who posted on social media that he was not sure how to pray in relation to hurricane Matthew because he wondered whether it might not be better for the hurricane to hit Jamaica and kill off those murderers in St James and western Jamaica, thereby purging the society of these wicked criminals.
Perhaps the Christians in the Bahamas, Haiti, Cuba and East coast of the USA are wondering why this hit from hurricane Matthew. Rev Omar Archer's wife was sheltering in a home in the Bahamas which lost the roof.
She was seven months pregnant and her husband was in Jamaica. How did Omar pray while he was in Jamaica and his wife in the Bahamas?
Perhaps his wife wondered whether God forgot that she was residing in that house. It is reminiscent of Lovindeer's song Wild Gilbert, in which a dreadlocks was delighted that the 1988 hurricane destroyed the shop of Mr Chin, who had served him pork to eat. He thought it was his prayers and exclaimed:
'Selassie jah! King of kings, show dem seh a we run things
Blow weh dem house but mek dem survive'
'Likkle after that Gilbert turn back
Liff off di roof off a natty dread shack
Him seh blouse and skirt jah must never know
Seh I & I live right ya so'
Perhaps it is best to realize that God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. Prayer is primarily to discern God's will and to pray in accordance with His perfect will.
We need to understand also that in the wisdom of God, hurricanes serve many purposes. Hurricanes help heat transportation which is good for Earth's atmospheric circulation and for Earth's thermal equilibrium,otherwise the Equatorial region would be hotter and the poles much colder.
In addition, they are rain-makers, providing 25 per cent of available rainfall to certain regions. Additionally, islands get barriers for their survival with dropping of sediments via wind and waves. Furthermore, by stirring the ocean, it moves nutrients from the sea floor to the surface, boosting marine productivity.
Without hurricanes life would be far worse. To a large extent, the deaths subsequent to the passage of a hurricane have more to do with poverty, corruption, inadequate shelters and poor drainage on the roads. In any case, God can use a setback for greater good.
Why nobody ever pray that Haiti be spared and let it come to Jamaica since we can manage more than our brothers and sisters in Haiti? Too often, our prayers are nationalistic, selfish and parochial. Let our prayers be in line with God's will when we pray about hurricanes.
• Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.