Alpha Omega isn't a single storm. Instead, it's the name I've applied to the series of hurricanes and cyclones that have lashed our coasts this year. Meteorologists around the world started predicting an active 2020 storm season back in December, 2019. You and I know the the basic uncertainty of most weather forecasts, especially in the Low-country of South Carolina. Still, the professionals in the National Hurricane Center could foresee the atmospheric conditions for an unusual storm year. To date, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)) has identified 31 tropical depressions from May through November 16. Of that number, 29 reached tropical storm status, 13 were classified as hurricanes, and 6 as major hurricanes. The Atlantic Hurricane season actually ends November 30. Hold on to your hats, Alpha Omega is still working.
Of course, the NOAA keeps lists of potential names for these storms. In 2020 they ran through their lists and started naming the storms after the letters in the Greek alphabet. With Alpha and Omega the first and last letters, they were chosen as the best identification of these weather disturbances in total. Of course, it was appealing to me because my Christian worldview identifies God as the Alpha and Omega of history. Revelation 21: 6 declares God's voice over history: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end". So, there's some spiritual significance in this title as well.
Alpha Omega, the storms, have been costly. More than 300 souls were lost in this storm year. In addition, thru July 27, the first storms lashed our nation with close to $1 billion in destructive costs. Later storms totaled $6 billion, and Hurricane Laura alone resulted in $10-12 billion in damage. Hurricane Sally is estimated to have rendered more than $8-10 billion in destructive force. Delta, Zeta, Eta, and Iota totals have not been estimated to date. Epsilon is still forming. And, these storms have taught us a thing or two---
1. God's presence in promised in uncertain weather.
Isaiah wrote a promise from the Father that guides and comforts us in any life uncertainty, including the weather---"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned" (Isaiah 43: 2, ESV). There is eternal blessing in even these storms.
2. We should pray for and assist those ravaged by Alpha Omega.
This storm season has taken lives, homes, property, and in many ways the human spirit. The Apostle Paul wrote, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ", (Galatians 6: 2, ESV). The anonymous author of the Epistle to the Hebrews also wrote, "Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God" (Hebrews 13: 16, ESV). Praying for and helping others is a blessed lesson plan.
3. Our prayers should also be for first responders and emergency personnel.
Natural tragedy and hardship are occasions for thousands of professional and volunteer workers to enter dangerous environments to provide care and assistance for those who have suffered. To the Colossians the Apostle Paul wrote, " And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (1:9, ESV). Hearing the news about tragic weather circumstances should automatically result in our prayers for those who will respond.
We Americans are a little manic about our weather forecasting because we know the lessons of history, especially Alpha Omega 2020. It was so in Jesus' day as well. One day he said, "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times" (Matthew 16: 3, ESV). Predicting the weather is certainly one thing. Responding to those with need is another. Let's be ready to pray and help as a sign of the times when Alpha Omega is threatening. And, remember. It is still 2020.
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