Katrina: Faith Lost & Found
It’s been five years now since the wind and rain of Hurricane Katrina bore down on the gulf coast. Five years since the levees broken and the world came off it’s hinges for the residents of New Orleans and the gulf coast. It is impossible to imagine all that was lost in those days, and here five years later, much of it is still waiting to be restored. But I was encouraged today as I read the story of one women who lost her faith in the days of the storm but went on to find it again in the rubble.
Kathleen Koch is a lifetime resident of Bay St. Louis. In an article for CNN she writes:
Five years ago, when Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans, I prayed. I prayed that the monster storm would veer east and spare the 1.3 million residents of the city and its surrounding parishes. I knew I was praying the hurricane right into my hometown, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
Faith had always been a part of her life but when she saw the depth of the destruction in her home town, she struggled to find God in the suffering. For Koch, the devastation was too great and her faith was left in tatters, much like the childhood home she’d always loved.
Her heartache is a tragically common one. She went on to write:
But Katrina spared no one. And as I watched residents struggle first against the federal bureaucracy and then against many insurance companies, my anger and frustration grew. I couldn’t understand how a loving God could let all this happen.
So for a long time, I gave up on God. I told myself my crazy schedule that kept me working most Sundays was to blame for my absence from church. But deep down, I knew better. I couldn’t look at the suffering and destruction on the Gulf Coast and find anything to be thankful for.
It can be difficult to reconcile the idea of a loving God with a broken reality, but Koch did find God again in what remained after the waters receded.
I took account of my life and how it had changed because of the hurricane. I had reconnected to my hometown and the people I’d grown up with. I had built new friendships with so many who had come to help the Gulf Coast. I was stronger, wiser and more keenly aware of what mattered in life. And it wasn’t the “stuff.”
“It’s just stuff” became a mantra in the region after the hurricane smashed homes and scattered belongings for miles.
People who lost everything found they still had plenty left to keep them going–family, friends, faith and community. They pulled together and in the process most found they had become better parents, better spouses, better citizens of their towns. They, as I, had been transformed by the monster hurricane.
By the end of the article Koch describes herself once more as a person of faith. She found her faith in the rubble. Her crisis of faith is pretty common. It’s a question people have asked for centuries, “Where is God when bad things happen to good people? Why is there suffering in the world?”
There are easy answers, ones that fit neatly into greeting cards, but they are little comfort when your world is falling apart. Philosopher Michael Horner deals with this question in his article, “Why Is There Suffering In the World.” If you find yourself asking this same question, his article might be just what you’re looking for.
If you want to dive deeper into this topic try our free, guided Life Lesson: Understanding Pain and Disaster. You’ll be matched with a study coach who will discuss your answers with you as you learn
How do you account for the suffering in the world? Can God still be good when it hurts?