As we watch televised reports of Hurricane Igor’s passage through Bermuda, the path of another recent hurricane—Earl— is inevitably brought to mind. For a week the entire East coast of the United States prepared itself for a direct hit from Hurricane Earl, a category 4 storm. The meteorologists told us that this hurricane could possibly affect some seven million people, from Florida all the way to Maine.
As Hurricane Earl approached North Carolina, the residents of Cape Hatteras prepared for the worst. Everyone in this coastal area seemed to be ready to face disaster—it didn’t help that the timing of Earl’s travels was eerily close to the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, and coverage of that devastation was being aired on TV.
But, amazingly, the seaside towns of North Carolina did not suffer a direct hit from Hurricane Earl. Neither did the villages on Eastern Long Island, prepared for their worst onslaught since Hurricane Gloria struck in 1985. Nor did Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard or the coast of Maine see the eye of Earl—all were spared. Oh yes, there was some devastation, but none of these areas took the direct hit that all were geared up to meet.
Why did this happen? Watching the path of Earl as it skimmed the East coast, it seemed inevitable that the hurricane would come on shore at some point and wreak the worst havoc imaginable. But something else was happening that week, something that could be felt as strongly as the fiercest, most catastrophic hurricane winds. That something was prayer.
“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalms 91: 2).
You could almost hear the prayers of those seven million people, whispering words such as these. Not all seven million prayed, of course, but no doubt many did. How else do we explain a hurricane skirting the entire East coast of America, without a direct foray onto the mainland?
True, a weakened Earl did make landfall in Nova Scotia, Canada and the hurricane caused plenty of damage all along the coast. But Katrina it wasn’t, and we all thought it would be. Maybe that’s why everyone prayed so hard.
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler” (Psalms 91:4).
Let us continue our prayers for people everywhere who may be threatened by hurricanes, tornados or other weather disasters.
The Holy Bible, King James Version, New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press