September 8, 2017

Reflection / Sean Gallagher

God gives us his care in the midst of the floods of life

Sean GallagherThe images and stories coming out of Texas and Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Harvey have been heartbreaking and shocking. Thankfully, living my whole life in Indiana, I’ve never experienced flooding like what has happened there, although I know waters can rise here, too.

I know that especially from a story that my father told me about an experience he had on the Flat Rock River in southern Shelby County nearly 60 years ago.

It was Memorial Day, and he was on the river near Geneva on a fishing boat with a friend. There had been a lot of rain in the area during the previous days and the level of the river was high.

At one point in their time on the water, the motor on the boat struck a submerged log and stopped working. They worked to fix it as the boat floated downstream. They got it to work again, but not before they were close to the Geneva Dam.

Dad told me that usually only a few inches of water would ordinarily flow over that dam. But on that day, several feet of water were rushing over it. The current was so strong, in fact, that the boat’s now-repaired motor couldn’t keep the boat from going over it.

As my dad and his friend approached the dam, Dad dove out and away from the boat. He went under the water near the bottom of the dam, and the water rushing over it kept him at first from getting back to the surface. He was also battered by a log that was caught in the backwash of the dam.

He recalled how he finally hit the bottom of the river and pushed with all of his might up at the same moment that he took in a mouthful of river water.

Now with his head above water, Dad struggled to get to shore, where a Shelby County sheriff’s deputy was on hand to bring him to safety.

There can be moments in our lives when it seems like troubles come upon us one after another like a massive flood. God might be there for us with a strong arm to pull us out when we’re struggling to keep our heads above water. At other times, he might be there when we hit rock bottom to give us a push up.

In either case, it can be hard for us to understand why God allows us to experience such torrents of hardship, let alone the trials of the millions of people affected by Harvey. We can ponder dilemmas like this, but we won’t come to a complete answer to them on this side of eternity.

It is comforting to know, however, that God is there to help us in the midst of our own personal floods. Sometimes, that comes in moments of prayer. At other times, God sends us his love through the care given to us by others, or even when we’re able, with the power of his grace, to help others in the middle of our own trials.

Please consider ways that you can be a channel of God’s loving care at this time to those affected by Harvey. Prayer in this case is indispensable. Contributions can also be made to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at

There are many stories of heartbreak resulting from Harvey. But the stories of self-giving love that have occurred in the wake of the storm, which reflect for people of faith the care of God, can be just as inspiring. Be a part of that inspiration now.

(Sean Gallagher is a reporter for The Criterion, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.)

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