Al Mohler released some haunting statistics about the flooding situation in Houston due to Hurricane Harvey. Quoting from the Washington Post, Mohler put the rainfall into perspective, as the sheer statistics are hard to comprehend.
Nine-trillion gallons have fallen over that city, and 20 trillion is expected. Just the nine trillion dumped thus far would fill The Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake city…twice.
Or maybe it helps to think of it like this: the Mississippi river would need to be dumped out, in its entirety, on the city of Houston, for nine straight days to match this storm. The entire Mississippi river has flooded Houston.
The water could occupy over 33,000 Empire State buildings.
Perhaps the most helpful way to try and imagine the figure is to think of the entire United States covered in a quarter of an inch of water. You heard that right: Texas has experienced continental rainfall. Enough water to cover our entire country has flooded this city.
Some insurance companies, whose job it is to calculate how often to expect storms like this, are saying this could be a storm that happens once in a million years.
It truly numbs the mind to think of it. And as I think of the catastrophic water dumped there, I am reminded of how small of a fraction that water is when compared to the water all over the world.
Even before hearing these figures, I was deeply distressed and heartbroken to see the images I saw on the news. I see images of Americans driving around street corners in speed boats to rescue children. I see images of houses, cars, buildings, and schools submerged in water. I see images of people walking to safety in water up to their waist and chest lines. I see reports of casualties. I see reports of missing people. The images I am seeing do not look like they are coming out of first century America. They look like 3rd world countries from many years ago. I cannot help but be humbled by this storm
We have so many blessings in this nation, and we have so many capabilities, it is hard to be reminded of how small and pathetic we still are. I would never have guessed that a major city would see people die because of rainfall in the 21st century.
This storm forces us to come face to face with how little control we have as a nation, and as a human race. And this humility ought to bring us to God in fear. May we be reminded of His power and control over our lives. May we be reminded of how terrible it would be to fall into the hands of a God who controls things like Hurricane Harvey (Hebrews 10:31).
Vainglory Hall of Fame
The tower of Babel was one of mankind’s lamest attempts to prove we are more significant than God says, and American secularism is right there in the Vanity Hall of Fame as well. American hubris is our Tower of Babel. We are a prideful and arrogant people. We are a people who believe “science” can replace God. We are a people who believe that being male or female is determined now by our whims. We are a people that can redefine person-hood, excluding babies in the womb. We are a people that believe sex is not up to God nor defined by how He created us, but is ours for the taking.
The secular, scientific, and sexual revolutions this country has experienced and promoted over the last few centuries is our tower, reaching high to the sky, showing the world who we are. (Thank God for the rainbow. What is happening in Houston once happened on a much bigger scale, and was much more catastrophic [Genesis 6]. And that kind of judgment is what we all deserve. But God is rich in mercy.) Whether through science, through government, or through secularism, Humanism has planted its flag in our soil. We are self-obsessed and have created many impressive things to replace our need for the Triune God of Scripture. But as the Tower of Babel went up, God quickly brought man down, and storms like Harvey have a similar effect.
The Dominion Mandate
We have built many good things to the glory of God. We as a human race were commissioned to take dominion over the earth, to cultivate it and subdue it. I hope that one days entails having more control over the weather. I believe it is very possible God may grant us the common grace to find ways to redirect, temper, or maybe even completely stop a hurricane. But until then, it ought to humble us.
We have technology that human minds in past generations never dreamed possible. We have accomplished many great feats. But may we be reminded of how pathetic and incapable we still are. May we be humbled under the feet of Jesus and remember who is King. Our fancy technology and crumbling democracies are not impressive to a holy God who, by Himself, stretched out the heavens (Isaiah 44:24). We control nothing He does not allow us to control. He is the one who calms the storms (Matthew 8: 23-27). This hurricane will go nowhere Jesus does not want it to go, and it will last no longer than He wants it to last. He is the Creator, He is the one with the power to tame the winds and command the waves.
We live in a big world. And our world dwells in an prodigious solar system. And our solar system floats around in a colossal galaxy. And our galaxy exists in a capacious universe. And God merely spoke it all into existence.
Pray for Houston. Pray to the God who judges nations, extends grace to sinners, and creates galaxies. Pray to the God who controls the winds and the waves.