The apocalyptic fury with which the winds of Hurricane Ian slammed into the Florida shoreline last Thursday, and with which they with buzzsaw precision subsequently obliterated a swath of destruction across the Sunshine State to the opposite shores—this unfolding tragedy of nature and humanity is beyond comprehension.
The accumulating statistics are numbing—over one hundred humans dead, countless wildlife destroyed, seaside villages wiped off the face of the earth, inland towns storm-surge flooded beyond recognition—to the place hurried estimates (being upwardly revised almost daily) put the monetary losses suffered at “between $180 billion to $210 billion” (www.newsweek.com/hurricane-ian-threatens-cause-120-billion-dollars-damages-1747675).
“‘Ian will go down as one of the most damaging and impactful storms in U.S. history, along with 2017's Hurricanes Harvey, which caused $190 billion in total damage and economic loss, and Irma ($80 billion); Sandy in 2012 ($210 billion); Katrina in 2005, ($320 billion), as adjusted for inflation,’ AccuWeather said in [an] initial press release on Thursday” (ibid).
But then, how can you put a price tag on total loss?
Michigan friends who had owned a mobile home (snowbird getaway) in Fort Meyers called us on Thursday to report that while the hurricane straps kept the mobile structure anchored to the cement slab foundation, Ian’s raging winds stripped the roof and gutted the contents. Gone. (Fortunately, our friends sold the home a few months ago—unfortunately, the new owner had just finished remodeling the interior.) Loss.
It’s funny how we use the word “loss.” The neighbor kids hit a baseball out into the unmown field and can’t find it. Loss. The stock market plunges and our retirement portfolio drops. Loss. Ukraine recovers territory it lost to Russia. Loss and gain. Puerto Rico's and the State of Florida’s power infrastructure is blown to smithereens. Loss. Praying now for gain.
We lost our keys—we lost our souls—how very different the stark meaning of being “lost” turns out to be. What makes the difference? Of course, it is the value attached to what is lost.
No wonder Jesus minces no words: “‘For what will it proffer a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’” (Mark 8:36)
Of course, it is the value attached to what is lost that determines the degree of loss. In this case, Jesus describes the loss as eternal. And who wants to lose that badly, who wants to lose forever?
Which, let me be quick to add, makes the risk Jesus willingly suffered, to save the likes of you and me from the enemy’s raging fury, utterly astounding. “[The Father] permitted [the Son] to meet life’s peril in common with every human soul, to fight the battle as every child of humanity must fight it, at the risk of failure and eternal loss” (Desire of Ages 49 emphasis supplied).
Loss. What Heaven was willing to risk—eternal loss—for the sake of saving your and my lost souls. We bow before Calvary’s incalculable cost. But we celebrate Christ’s incalculable gift.
And in that spirit of self-sacrificing joy, we turn our hearts southward to the sufferings of our neighbors, and for them, we send more than prayers and love. We give. For the fastest way to get your gift to where it is desperately needed, please go to https://relief.floridaconference.com and note the various options for giving.
As Jesus so succinctly put it, “‘Freely you have received; freely give’” (Matthew 10:8). For them. For Jesus.