Pastor's Desk - Lessons from Beryl

Jul 07, 2024

Today, as I write this message, I do so with gratitude to God that we were spared the direct fury of the first major hurricane of this season. Apart from being the first hurricane of its strength in June, it also grew from a tropical depression to a full-blown hurricane in less than two days. Another first for Beryl is that it is the earliest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic to reach a category 4, and then 5, with devastating and destructive results.

One got the impression that no one was taking Beryl lightly after seeing what she did to Carriacou, in the Grenadines, two days before. Jamaicans were ready to take this weather phenomenon very seriously. 

Some of us were well prepared, others of us were partially prepared, but all of us had some sense, whether prepared or not, that this was not going to be an easy ride. The hurricane came and its eyewall, we are told, passed by Jamaica’s southern coastline on Wednesday, July 3rd, leaving behind extensive damage in Portland and St Elizabeth. The rest of the island had various damage including loss of parts of roofs, some flooding, down power lines and broken tree branches. This has left many communities without electricity and water. As I write, these are being repaired. It will take a few weeks to assess the full damage, to the country, but we give thanks to God. It could have been worse.

Three Lessons

Be prepared - (physical, mental and spiritual)

“The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7)

The matter of adequate preparation for a hurricane cannot be overstated. It is important to continue to take the guidance provided by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) seriously. While some people will be more vulnerable than others, the advice is useful. Our preparation should not only be physical, but emotional, mental and spiritual. Waiting out a powerful hurricane can be traumatic. The trauma is increased for children when the adults whom they depend on to protect them are panicking because they are unprepared. It is always helpful to hang out or ride out the storm with friends and family members whose company can help cushion the trauma.

It is in this situation that one's faith becomes alive. Yes, you have prayed, you have confessed whatever sins you need to confess, now what do you do when you hear the howling winds and the raindrops outside beating against your windows like they are demanding entry? In this state, as you cry out to Jesus, silently or loudly, you should also listen to His voice as He calms your heart during all that is happening around you. This is always an occasion for family and friends to huddle together and pray. I am drawn to the young man who lost his life in Kingston. While playing, his ball fell into a gully and he dived in to save it so that he and his friends could continue their fun. What was he thinking when he lost control of not only the ball, but himself, in that boisterous body of water produced by Beryl, heading for the sea? To empty its content? May his soul rest in peace.

Be prepared – (to be your brother and sister’s keeper)

“Storms help to make the sailors sturdy, and trials help to make Christians strong in faith.” (Charles- Spurgeon)

Preparation is also about being your brother and sister’s keeper. My wife and I were heartened when, on Tuesday, our neighbour passed by and advised us to park our vehicles a little away from our house, closer to the end of the carport, in case tiles were blown from the roof, they would not damage the vehicles. This was thoughtful, as we never passed through a hurricane in that house, and neighbourhood, before. He also told us about the common weaknesses of the house, including the roof etc. Other neighbours may need a prescription filled at the pharmacy or a lift to a friend or relative where they may feel safer. Each of us needs to ask how we can be more of a neighbour in a situation like this. Be prepared – (to recognize and accept our limits) “He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed.” (Psalm 107:29) We must be prepared to accept our limits in a hurricane. This is one of those times when, despite all the preparations we make, we must bear in mind that we cannot see, do and control everything, as God is in control. We can try to reduce the impact of the rain and the wind, but we cannot stop it once it starts. 

One of the factors we are told by the hurricane experts why we had a hurricane so early in the season was due to climate change. Hurricanes thrive on high temperatures and the seas have been very hot. Usually, the temperature rises later in the season, after summer, and closer to fall, but we are seeing a phenomenon like Beryl. Is this a situation where human beings can create indirectly the conditions for high temperatures through our consumption patterns, and we are powerless to deal with the consequences? When we can go no further, we need to listen to and obey God.


This is the beginning of the hurricane season, and we started with a bang, no pun intended. How prepared are we for the rest of the season? It is not only the season that we need to consider, but how our changing lifestyle has impacted climate change and how climate change has created hurricane monsters. Our response is to be more prepared in every way to respond to the other natural systems which could affect the region. May God help us to remember that He is in control as we place our lives in His hands.

Your Pastor