e-piphanies on the Anniversary of The Great Storm of 1900
We are here at the Seawall on Galveston Island on September 8, 2007, the 107th anniversary of the Great Storm of 1900, which devastated this island and killed over 6,000 of its inhabitants. Today, 107 years later, that storm remains the worst natural disaster in American history. There were epiphanies in the storm for the people of Galveston. In the aftermath of the storm, they discovered blessings they might never have recognized.
Engineers designed this Seawall, which rises 17 feet above the beach below, to protect the island from other storms by breaking the force of a tidal surge. It is an amazing example of pioneering engineering and construction. The level of the island was raised six feet in some places. People not only wanted the island to be habitable again, but they also wanted it to be beautiful, so they planted oleanders and other flowering plants. A new form of city government was developed to facilitate the rebuilding of the city. That form of government not only served this city well for over 50 years, it was copied by more than 300 other cities across the country. And the people! The people of Galveston discovered spiritual resources that made it possible to overcome differences, transcend barriers of race and class.
In the midst of devastation, God gave the people of Galveston the intellectual, physical, economic, and spiritual resources to rebuild their island home and their lives. That’s the way it works. If we look into the difficult times with eyes of faith, we discover God’s hand at work, helping, healing, and providing for us all we need to move forward into the future. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)