"I thought it was safe"
It is a frightening coincidence – if that is what it is – that the long-scheduled first reading from 1 Thessalonians 5 includes the following verse:
For when they shall say, Peace and safety;
then sudden destruction cometh upon them,
as travail upon a woman with child;
and they shall not escape.
We human beings easily lull ourselves into a false sense of security. We imagine our buildings and cities to be invulnerable. We take our technology and modern comforts for granted.
And now, some middle class suburban neighborhoods in the most powerful nation on the planet will be without electricity for weeks - if not months.
(Sometimes we subdue the earth
and sometimes the earth subdues us.)
Many of us sitting securely in our living rooms foolishly comfort ourselves by uncharitably picking at the faults of some of the hurricane’s victims (“if they had evacuated, they wouldn’t be dead”). But while it is good to reaffirm the lessons of prudence, it is a mistake to think that prudence alone will make us perfectly safe.
The most important lesson of yesterday’s tragedy and of today’s first reading is that our human lives are fragile: somewhere in the world tomorrow some other man-made or natural disaster will wipe out more lives (God have mercy on them), you or I could drop dead before we draw our next breath (God have mercy on us), and the Day of the Lord is coming (come, Lord Jesus).
As Christians, we do not have to lull ourselves to sleep with a false sense of security or numb ourselves in various ways against existential dread. We can joyfully walk forward, awake and sober.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath,
but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
Who died for us,
that, whether we wake or sleep,
we should live together with him.
Our security, our safety, our peace comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – no matter what prosperity or destruction may befall us.
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others;
but let us watch and be sober.
For they that sleep sleep in the night;
and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober,
putting on the breastplate of faith and love;
and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.