A friend asked me how the hurricane had impacted people mentally and emotionally.  She wondered how a counseling ministry helps people during what I call “creation catastrophes”.

It has been a busy few weeks because of the storm, so I have been musing over her question but really have found it difficult to write anything till now because of the needs that have come to us at Living Water Counseling because of the hurricane.  

But I think her question is important because it allows us to give praise to God of how he works in such times of crisis and gives us divine appointments to be a means of giving witness of HIS love and truth at the darkest of times.  

The impact on people began before the storm came because of the anxiety of the hurricane coming and the need to make plans and preparations.  

Some of our work during this time was helping people with panic and anxiety struggles not to give into depression and destructive behavior since now they had good reason for worry.  

One case was where a man who has no family, close friends, or community and was facing significant issues with the structural integrity of his home before the storm. He now had to get ready for a significant hurricane coming to South Florida.  Suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder made attempting to keep a clear mind and deal with necessary decisions to get ready seemed an overwhelming responsibility to him.

I spent time on the phone praying for him, sorting out the confusing thoughts, helping him prioritize the real concerns over the false fears that could cloud his thinking, and encouraging him to connect with others so that he would not be alone in the storm.  There were numerous texts sent back and forth to reinforce the comfort and counsel.   I praise God that he was enabled to get through the storm without a panic attack.

When crisis comes marriages that already are in crisis don’t do well.  We were in contact with many such couples before the storm helping the coming storm outside not lead to an abusive conflict in their home because of the stress.   

One such couple was in major conflict over how to prepare for the storm.  The normal tensions, lack of trust, and bitterness over the past now made making preparation decisions nearly impossible.  At one point one of the spouses was just going to run away alone to the keys to get away from the other spouse because of the emotional pain of the relationship.  

Through many phone calls and texts, we could speak to both spouses and to them as a couple to have them work through a joint plan and provide for them tools to handle the strain on their relationship.  No dangerous or destructive decisions were made and they were empowered to get through the hurricane safely and with a good measure of harmony in their relationship.  They will be coming in for follow up counseling after the storm. 

After the storm, many couples were struggling because they had been abusive and hurtful to each other.  

One woman who had been able to free of alcohol abuse for twenty years relapsed during the storm and began seriously abusing alcohol.   They also began to verbally and emotionally abuse their spouse because of their intoxication.   The spouse felt that they needed to leave after the storm because of the intense nature of the storm.  The person struggling with alcohol would not respond to calls or text.  

In counsel with the husband and others we developed an intervention of significant people who visited the wife at home.  This intervention was successful and there was a recommitment to recovery.   The separation was ended and the couple is coming in for follow up counseling.  

In another case a husband and wife had gotten into significant conflict as one fled to family and the other stayed here to take care of property.  There was disagreement and tension in making decisions and fear for the safety of the person who was staying.  

One of the spouses, had wanted to demonstrate their trust in the Lord as a witness to the other.  But found themselves instead filled with fear, panic, and attempting though verbal abuse to make the other one do what they thought was best.  They apologized after the storm for this behavior but wondered why they had lacked faith enough to avoid panic during the storm.  

This lead to a discussion of how faith is not an act of the will but a response to a good story about Jesus Christ, a response empowered by the HOLY SPIRIT.   This discussion did bring a witness to the family and helped them both see how faith in Christ Jesus can be of vital help during hard times.  

During the storm, God was at work.  Many individuals and marriages were strengthened because the crisis caused them to have to seek better answers than they had to cope with problems.  God indeed is working all things together for good. 

Pray as we continue to help people with practical, psychological, and passionate struggles caused by the impact of the hurricane in South Florida.  Ask the LORD to give us the resources and wisdom we need to help heal hearts and homes even during hurricanes.  

Something of Interest

Here is an interesting scientific study on how hurricanes can be used for good. 

http://www.npr.org/2014/02/19/279709440/what-is-the-psychological-effect-of-naming-storms