It’s not a word I use very often, do you? Cacophany. In fact, almost never. It sounds strident and raucous. Almost rude; or angry.
But if I softened it and said there was a “gentle cacophony” would that make it more acceptable? What about if I said, “After we recounted how God had sent angels to protect us through the storm there was a gentle cacophony of praise that rose up spontaneously from the congregation…” that draws a powerful picture, doesn’t it?
Hurricane Matthew visited us a few days ago. It was savage. Two hundred and twenty five thousand people were evacuated from our area. Estimates are that more than 10,000 trees were ripped out of the ground. Hundreds of thousands just in our state were without electric power or water for more than a week. Thousands would return to their homes to find that their refrigerators reeked of the county landfill.
I know, most people don’t like to hear the story of other people’s storms, but this isn’t a story about storms, this is a story about God.
A week later we came together in our worship center to rejoice. It was the largest attendance anyone could remember. The worship leader said we should take three minutes to find five people we didn’t know, give them a hug, and tell them, “I’m so thankful you made it through the storm!” Meltdown.
There had been no deaths in our church family. In fact, only minor damage. A few shingles here, some water there, a tree down – or several – over there. One after another arose and told their story of God’s nearness, gestures of inordinate caring such as a neighbor who took in nine strangers, powerline workers who drove a thousand miles to get here, slept in tents in an open field and worked obscene hours to restore our power.
One lady said, “I learned so much. I learned that the things I thought were treasures were really only stuff.” One mom told how, as the storm howled and her family prayed, her three-year old said, “Mommy, we need to send blankets to Haiti.”
And then some hard questions: If some of our church family hadn’t survived, could we still praise God for His faithfulness? His providence? If our church building had been destroyed and we had to worship in the flooded parking lot that morning would we still have been praising God for His faithfulness? I know this group of worshipers well and it is my sense that, with their arms around each other, there would still have arisen from their huddle a gentle cacophony of praise.
-By Don Jacobsen