Snowmaggedon. Snowpocalypse. Snowvid ’21.
Whatever you call the winter storms that slammed Texas last week, it was one for the history books. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where I live, we experienced the coldest three days in a row since records started being kept in 1898. The average temperature from February 14-16 was 10.8°, beating the old record from December 22-24, 1983, when the temperature averaged 11.7°. On Valentine’s Day, we saw four inches of snow fall, which for us Texans might as well have been a blizzard. In these parts, that was the highest single snowfall in a decade.
As you’ve seen from the national news, we weren’t prepared for this kind of weather. In Texas, we handle 100°+ days with ease, but when we see snowflakes drifting down, we lose our legendary swagger and panic. And we had good cause this time. Our statewide power grid failed, leaving over four million in the dark and cold. Water mains froze and broke, and in many communities (including mine), city officials issued boil advisory alerts. Some people, desperate for heat, fired up grills in their homes and suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.
Still, in the midst of this disaster, people stepped up to help their fellow human beings. “Mattress Mack,” a furniture store owner in Houston, opened his showroom for displaced residents, and even walked around with food and water, checking to make sure people were comfortable. In my conference, churches offered their buildings as warming stations, handed out cases of water, served hot meals, gave away firewood, and distributed flood bucket kits.
The snow is all gone now. As a matter of fact, it hit 81° today in my neck of the woods, proving that “if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait a day or two.” It was such a beautiful day that I took a walk and ran into a couple down the block. “Did you lose power?” I asked.
They hadn’t – and they said they felt embarrassed. “Survivor’s guilt” is what psychologists call it. You feel guilty if you survived a traumatic event when someone else didn’t, and you may experience mental unease for things you did or did not do during the crisis.
Later, in our conversation, the woman mentioned that they had taken in some friends who had lost power. “Then you did something good,” I interjected. They said sheepishly, “Well, I guess we did.”
On Facebook, a colleague mentioned that her church lost power and they couldn’t open as a warming station. “We were able to get cases of water to neighbors who had theirs shut off, but that’s about all we had to offer,” she posted. I reminded her that Jesus himself said that if you offer a cup of cold water in his name, “you will not lose your reward” (Matthew 10:42).
Mother Teresa said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” We may see store owners opening up their businesses to strangers or ice-battered utility workers restoring power to entire neighborhoods and view our own helping hand as stunted and useless. But I don’t believe God sees it that way. The Scriptures never command us to do grand and glorious acts of kindness, but simply to “be kind to one another” (Ephesians 4:32). Think of all the small acts of compassion that Jesus performed that didn’t involve the miraculous: he welcomed children; broke bread with sinners; shared a spiritual conversation with a Samaritan woman; urged his famished disciples to eat grain even when it violated Sabbath rules.
It’s a big deal when you offer a small act of kindness. Christ proved that over and over.
And if it was good enough for Jesus, it has to be good enough for us.