What Harvey Can Teach Us

Sunday morning was already odd. Rather than stand before the church to speak, I sat in front of the television and watched the news.

As far as I know, this was the first time we’d ever cancelled all services on all campuses. It was not an easy decision. With city officials urging everyone to stay home and off the streets because of Hurricane Harvey, however, I believe it was the correct one. So I found myself with a lazy Sunday morning. (Ok, I confess, the extra sleep was nice.)

But then came the news reports. Image after image from Rockport. Story after story from Houston. The devastation was breathtaking and ongoing. Like many of you, I sat glued to the television screen, toggling back and forth between CNN, FOX, and the Weather Channel. I heard the phrase “once in a thousand year flood”. I received texts like: “We are safe, but our neighbors aren’t.” And who will ever forget the images of citizens heeding the call to steer their shallow-bottomed boats through neighborhoods on rescue missions.

Stunning. If only it were a movie. But it isn’t. It is history.

So what do we do?

First and foremost, we pray. We pray for God to redirect the storm and alleviate the suffering.

Next, we help. At this initial stage, the biggest need besides prayer is for financial donations to organizations providing disaster relief.

We recommend donating directly to Samaritan’s Purse or to The American Red Cross, online at:



Not only do we pray and help, I think we need to learn. What spiritual lessons do these moments teach us?

Jesus criticized the leaders of his day for focusing on the weather and ignoring the signals: “You find it easy enough to forecast the weather—why can’t you read the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:3 MSG).

What are we to learn from all of this? Is God sending us some reminders? I think so. At least three come to mind:

Lesson #1- Stuff doesn’t last. Relationships do.

As you’ve listened to evacuees and survivors, have you noticed their words? No one laments a lost plasma television or submerged SUV. No one runs through the streets yelling, “My cordless drill is missing” or “My golf clubs have washed away.” If they mourn, it is for people lost. If they rejoice, it is for people found.

Could Jesus be reminding us that people matter more than possessions? In a land where we have more malls than high schools, more debt than credit, more clothes to wear than we can wear, could Christ be saying:

“Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15 NIV).

You see demolished $40,000 cars that will never be driven again, hidden in debris. And in the background of our minds we hear the quiet echoes of Jesus saying, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Matthew 16:26 NIV).

Raging hurricanes and swollen bayous have a way of prying our fingers off the stuff we love. What was once most precious now means little; what we once ignored is now of eternal significance.

Think about what matters to you.

Lesson #2: We really are in this together.

We saw, and are seeing, how humanity can come together and help each other. Lifeboats did not discriminate by color of skin. Rescuers did not ask if the needy were Republican or Democrat. Helicopter rescue wasn’t offered only to the rich or educated. People came together to help people.

We don’t have to have a Harvey to prompt us to help others, however. Someone in your office could use your assistance. They aren’t stranded on a rooftop, but they are likely struggling with a decision. Someone in your neighborhood could use a friend. They didn’t lose their house, but, perhaps they lost their way.

Let’s let Harvey remind us: we really are in this together.

Lesson #3: This world doesn’t work but the next one will.

“The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:19-22 NIV).

The creation is third trimester heavy. Birth pangs must occur before a new birth. During the birth pangs the mother keeps focused on the end result: the moment that she will hold her beautiful baby in her arms. She knows that birth pangs don’t last forever; indeed, the more intense the pangs, the nearer the delivery.

Our world is experiencing a rash of birth pangs these days. It is not to me to declare the day the Lord will return. But we know this much: it’s the beginning of the end and the beginning of new beginnings. Calamities and catastrophes must occur before the birth of the new world. In the meantime- practice what they teach in Lamaze classes- take some deep breaths and hold the hand of the one who loves you.

Jesus made this point in one of his final messages. He referred to the increased frequency of disasters and then said: “See to it that you are not alarmed” (Matthew 24:6 NIV). Jesus chose a stout term for “alarmed” that he used on no other occasion. It means, “to wail, to cry aloud” as if Jesus counseled the disciple: “Don’t freak out when bad stuff happens.”

Jesus promised that bad things would occur. But they won’t occur forever.

What rescuers are doing for Houstonians, God will do for you. He has entered your world. He has dropped a rope into your sin-swamped life. He will rescue, you simply need to do what many stranded people are doing–let him lift you out.

Listen to the lessons of Harvey. Let the storm remind you of the value of relationships, people and, most of all, the promise of heaven. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I attended a prayer service at a downtown church. A local minister gave a message on this verse: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8 NKJV).

The minister helped us see all the things Noah could not find because of the flood. He could not find his neighborhood. He could not find his house. He could not find the comforts of home or the people down the street–there was much he could not find. But what he could find made all the difference. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Noah found grace in the eyes of God. If you have everything and no grace, you have nothing. If you have nothing but grace, you have everything.

©Max Lucado, August 29, 2017



41 comments on “What Harvey Can Teach Us

  1. Thank you. So many want to blame God. Thank you for explaining what we who have experienced Grace and do so daily Let him lift you out.

  2. God Bless You Max.You are one of my favorite people.I believe everything you an e saying.Jesus is about to come.No one knows when.just as the weather people gives warnings and people ignore them,they are ignoring the signs God is giving.I know Jesus.He came to me in my pit of Hell 16 Yrs ago.delivered me from suicide,alcohol,drugs,instantly.he’s still giving me test for testimoniester.

  3. Thank you Pastor Max! I read your devotional each morning and start my day off right. My thoughts and prayers are with the people in Texas. I would like to donate to a reliable fund for the families involved.
    In His love,
    Ellie Osborn

  4. Living in CA but I am a Houstonian. I will probably read your article over and over. I needed it. Eventhough I am not currently living there, I feel as though I AM there. I can’t quit praying and crying. So many friends and family hurting and have lost their homes.
    Thank you Max

  5. Thank you… I very much appreciate this message as I am recovering from a surgery that left me one breath from Eternity. The relationships between myself and the ICU nurses and techs was truly sent by God!!! My Good, Good Father held me under His Wings the whole time and gave me many confirmations of this…. So very Grateful!!! (All during Hurricane Harvey)

  6. This is so well written. What a blessing you are to so many with your gift of words. Thank you.

  7. Thank you so much for this wonderful message. My heart is breaking for the many people who are hurting so deeply from this hurricane. I live in Texas but quite a bit farther north of all the devastation. I am praying for all those affected by the storm & will be donating towards rescue efforts. We should all learn the lessons you pointed out in this message; if everyone learned and followed God’s guidance, can you imagine what a wonderful world this will be.
    Again thank you and may God bless you and your family.

  8. You hit the nail on the head, Max! Warnings are all around us so we all need to be prepared for Jesus! God bless you and keep you and keep writing to us, it is so uplifting!

  9. Max: I am very glad that God supplied you with the words for ALL of us to learn from all of this happening about Hurricane Harvey. There’s NO ONE righteous that couldn’t learn powerful lessons from what you presented.

    You are a POWERFUL instrument of God, Max, and I give God all the glory and credit for that, but I want to give YOU my heartfelt thanks.

  10. Thank you Pastor Max for writing this, and giving the right perspective on this tragedy.
    Thank you for “your words” that give us the correct context to look at the events that are happening in our lives…
    You have blessed me more than you’ll ever know by ALL your writing’s!!!! Xo
    Praying for Texas! Thank you!!!

  11. Oops should say: Thank you Pastor Max for your help by writing this article.
    Please, would you correct this error…. Thank you!!!

  12. Well you got your message in to me and I’m sure many others. Thanks for reminding me of what I have to be thankful for. I feel the pain for those in Texas and what they are going through. It could very well be me in Alabama. I am thankful God still loves me even though I don’t deserve it. Praying for those in need and in need of Jesus. Thank you for the sermon.

  13. My my prayers are with you and your family and ongoing for everyone affected by the storm. Bless you for your ministry! Blessings also for everyone who has come to the aid of the storm victims. God will make this this work to glorify His Name!

  14. Powerful TRUTHS ~ thank you so much! Part of a Prayer Team in the DFW area and this was just what God has been showing us ~ HOLD on tight to Him~ He’s the ONLY Answer!!

  15. Thank you so much for this timely insight. We often get so bogged down by the minute to minute things without seeing the One who is directing our minutes for His purpose. God bless you and I thank you again.

  16. Thank you! We went through Matthew and the 1,000 year flood last year in SC. It brought friends and families closer. Later, I posted, can we pretend that the lights are out and have no water. How blessed we were during this time! He will pull us through, if we can stand the pull. May God continue to bless you as you share His word.

  17. The staff at Morningside Baptist Church in Tallahassee, FL has been praying together every morning for the church in Houston and the surrounding counties. We are praying that you will be equipped, strengthened, and encouraged to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We are also praying that many will see Jesus through Christians and that many will come to faith through this trial.

  18. Thank you Max Lucado! I love how you always explain things to us in a simple way that all can understand! Love your videos too!! Thanks for reminding us of what’s most impt! God Bless!

  19. Loved your perspective as always. Question…why no shout out for The Salvation Army? They are every bit as invested in disaster relief as the 2 charities you’ve mentioned. Thank you.

  20. Exactly. Well said. Spot on. Watching this morning as a man returned to his floooded home…missing his stuff that could not be replaced. Thinking to myself “Hey, man! It’s not about the stuff (big house filled with his stuff under water). Maybe he should read your post.

  21. please don’t recommend Red Cross. They are not a Christian organization and there are many Christian organizations and churches that will put the money to better use, locally, biblically, and for THIS issue. Red Cross is known for NOT using the money as intended for the current event and ‘saving’ it for the next disaster. I consider that deceptive and will not support them.

  22. Thanks for the wisdom and inspiration. Living in CC, our family still sees the impact on our and neighboring communities daily. I would suggest more directly impacting donation recipients void of questions of integrity like the ones mentioned. The Food Bank of Corpus Christi (supporting the smaller coastal communities) and The Food Bank of Houston provide needs more efficiently and without political agenda.

  23. Thank you for your amazing words & enlightening. I have always loved your books & anointing on your words…I have been a Christian for many years & have experienced God’s grace all throughout my walk wit Him. I am getting brave today & sharing your site with my friends. Also I didn’t realize until today that you have a daily devotional which I will also be doing. My prayers are with you & the people of Harvey.

  24. thank you for this message our father has not left us his promises and his warning that the day of his return is near thanks for pastors like you that still preach gods word

  25. Your message was so needed e by many people I was wondering how I could send it to many people and not cjbakerhave it end up in junk or trash on computers and iPads.

    Thank you for. Sharing with us.

  26. Pastor Max I needed to hear those words. Even though my husband and I are not impacted by Harvey, we are in a hurricane of our own. Thank you for helping me see the BIG picture. Love to you, brother!

  27. Pastor Max; I am not of your faith, but your words ring home and are the source of deep comfort to all of us who are.. together… part of this often troubled world. God bless you and your family and may your words continue to inspire and reach the ears and eyes of the many who need support and God’s eternal blessing.

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