• Storm battered Northeast Friday night into Saturday morning
• New York City got just over 11 inches of snow and Boston got more than two feet
• JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty airports re-opened and flights resumed
• Nearly 600,000 customers without power in Northeast
• Hurricane force wind gusts up to 76mph reported at Boston's Logan Airport
• At least seven snow-related deaths, among them one in Poughkeepsie, New York, and three in Canada
• Boy, 11, died from carbon monoxide poisoning while shoveling snow in Boston
• Nearly 40 inches of snow fell in parts of Connecticut, 22 inches in Long Island, New York, one foot in New Jersey
• Coastal areas of Massachusetts evacuated for fear of flooding from high tide
• Driving bans lifted in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island
Winter Storm Nemo has brought all kinds of chaos and tragedy, but let’s not forget that God works in mysterious ways. Tales of prayer and survival can also trace from such disasters.
Stranded for hours on a snow-covered road, Priscilla Arena prayed, took out a sheet of loose-leaf paper and wrote what she thought might be her last words to her husband and children.
She told her 9 1/2-year-old daughter, Sophia, she was 'picture-perfect beautiful.' And she advised her 5 1/2-year-old son, John: 'Remember all the things that mommy taught you.’
‘Never say you hate someone you love. Take pride in the things you do, especially your family. ... Don't get angry at the small things; it's a waste of precious time and energy. Realize that all people are different, but most people are good.’
'My love will never die - remember, always,' she added.
Arena, who was rescued in an Army canvas truck after about 12 hours, was one of hundreds of drivers who spent a fearful, chilly night stuck on highways in a blizzard that plastered New York's Long Island with more than 30 inches of snow, its ferocity taking many by surprise despite warnings to stay off the roads.
Randle Roper and Jacob Olson have been waiting for a blizzard for a long, long time.
Roper, 41, and Olson, 31, moved to downtown Providence, R.I., from Los Angeles two years ago.
"We've been waiting for this snow forever," Roper said.
The two spent days waiting with childlike excitement for the storm, hoping to use the snow boogieboards they bought when they heard there would be substantial snowfall.
"We're looking for the perfect hill," said Olson, who grew up in the Marshall Islands and is completely unfamiliar with snow.
"I love it," he said. "It's so much fun."
Karen Willis Beal got her dream wedding Saturday – complete with a snowstorm just like the one that hit before her parents married in December 1970.
"This is what I've wished for all my life," Beal said afterward.
The storm kept some guests from making it to the church-turned-restaurant in Portland, Maine, where the ceremony was performed. But she was still happy she got her storm.
"Weather be damned, it's been a great day," said her husband, Greg Beal, of Manchester, N.H.
The happy couple even took some outdoor photos, including one at a lighthouse where they used a sled as a prop.
"The gusts were enough to knock you off balance," Greg Beal said.
In other snowbound wedding news, Kathryn Jussaume, 30, of Lowell, found that a pair of snowshoes was a nice complement to her stunning strapless gown for her nuptials to Jason Destroismaison, 32, of Tyngsboro.
Earlier in the day, she confessed to some jitters when she awoke on her wedding day and the snow was so deep she couldn't see her mailbox.
"I started to get a little bit nervous," Jussaume said Saturday afternoon. "But Jason was cool as a cucumber."
She set out to shovel after her snow blower broke. She told the Lowell (Mass.) Sun she waved down a passing plow and explained it was her wedding day.
"He said, `It's your wedding day? Move over,'" Jussaume said. "It was so nice. He plowed us out."
For fun, she later posed for photos in her gown – wearing snowshoes.
This question is an ancient one, the question of theodicy: How can an all-powerful and all-good God coexist with all the evil in the world? The answers usually shake out in two different directions, either God is not all-powerful (and therefore cannot stop evil) or God is not all-good (and therefore does not want to stop evil). Both of these are wrong. The Bible teaches that God is all-powerful:
“But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:3
Scripture also teaches that God is also all-good:
“No one is good but One, that is, God.” Matthew 19:17
“Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.” Psalm 136:1
So then, the question remains, where is God in the midst of evil, disaster, catastrophe and destruction?
Where is God? How do we find Him? And, more importantly, how do we know how He looks at us? Does He love us or hate us? If we see disaster and catastrophe as an expression of God's heart toward us, then we can only conclude that God hates us or is mad at us. But is it true that God hates us?
God is often hidden from us. “Truly You are a God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!” [Isaiah 45:15] This is how God is in our suffering; He is hidden, not to be found. If we go looking for God where He is hidden we will never find Him. If we ask, “Why, Lord, did this happen?” we will never find the answer, and the more we ask, the farther it seems the answer is from us. Chasing after God's hidden will only leads us closer and closer to despair.
What, then, are we to do? If we can't determine how God looks at us from the circumstance of our lives, how are we to know it? How do we know if God loves us or hates us?
Dr. Luther teaches us this about suffering:
We should be comforted by our certainty that it is God's punishment sent upon us not only to punish sin but also to test our faith and love- our faith in order that we may see and know what our attitude is toward God, and our love in order that we may see what our attitude is toward our neighbor. (Luther: Letters of Spiritual Council, ed. Theodore Tappert, Regent College Publishing, Vancouver, BC. 1955. p. 237)
Luther reminds us that catastrophe and disaster are a test of our faith toward God and our love toward our neighbor.
Instead of fear and despair, disaster should provoke and strengthen our faith in God. Job is our example. After he had lost almost everything (including his ten children) his wife says, “Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But Job does not let disaster drive him from God. He responds to his wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept evil?” [Job 2:9-10] Job's disaster doesn't silence his prayers but amplifies them; it doesn't quench his faith but strengthens it.
Luther also notes that catastrophe is a test of our love, providing opportunities to love our neighbors. James writes, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warm and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” [James 2:15-16]
We rejoice that catastrophes provide us the opportunity to help our neighbors in time of need, to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and tend to the sick. Faith always works in love for the neighbor, keeping the law, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” [Leviticus 19:18] Faith looks upon the neighbor's need as an opportunity to love and give.
Thus disaster provides the opportunity for us to confess our faith and God and to show our love for our neighbor.