Hurricane Florence and 9/11 | Waiting For The Storm

Seventeen years ago, I was asleep in my dorm room at University Towers on the campus of NC State University. My phone rang. It was my mom.

“Hey, bud. Turn on the news. A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center.”

Along with the rest of the known world, I watched in horror as the events unfolded before our eyes in nightmarish fashion. It was the worst case scenario—something we’d never imagined.

I remember the fear. It felt like a gripping sickness that was inescapable. My mind grew legs and ran into dark corners as I wondered when and where the next plane was going to strike. It was an awful, awful feeling.

It has been while since I felt that kind of fear.

That is, until yesterday.

Hurricane Florence

My hometown, Wilmington, NC, the place I love more than anywhere in the world, sits in the crosshairs of Hurricane Florence. Growing up in this sleepy coastal town, I have a sort-of fascination with hurricanes. At one point, I even wanted to study meteorology. Although I’ve lived through every near miss and direct hit from Hugo to Irma, I’ve never seen what I saw yesterday.

Every consensus weather model showed a direct hit from a Category 4 Hurricane within 100 miles of my hometown. There are no steering currents, no hopeful, last-minute heroics to turn it out to sea, and no pixie dust to fly me far, far away. This is the real deal.

I watched as the national media began showing footage of my hometown and compared what is coming to the likes of Katrina. My kids began to ask, “Dad, is it going to hit us? How bad is it going to be? Are we going to flood?”

I felt like Quint, the salty captain in the movie Jaws. He had seen sharks before, but not this shark. My bravado and wit faded into reality.

The boat is sinking. The shark is coming. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

Bigger Boats

This morning, my family and I, along with millions of others, are faced with a tough reality. A very serious, potentially life-threatening storm is bearing down on us. In moments like this fear is very real. To resolve our fear, we traditionally pray for a bigger boat—something that we think will give us relief. But the Titanic proved that big boats still sink.

The past few days have reminded me to stop praying for a bigger boat and start praying for bigger faith—the kind of faith that sleeps during the storm instead of fighting like hell to avoid it. That may seem naive, crazy, or cartoonish, but at some point in your life you will reach the end of yourself. This is the moment when all paths of retreat are cut off and no amount of wrestling or striving can give you the control you long for.

I pray for that moment. Not because of how difficult it is, but because of how powerful it is.

Only when you reach the end of yourself can you realize that faith offers something beyond yourself. That’s the moment of awakening. While the world prays for relief from its circumstances, let us pray for peace in the midst of them.

So today, as we wait for the storm, my prayer for us is peace.

Be safe, friends.

With much love,


Here’s a recent sermon I gave on “Freedom From Fear”



Matt Ham is the cofounder of YouPrint, a faith and personal development organization. YouPrint helps individuals and organizations pursue their God-given identity by waking up their faith and encouraging the life they were created for.

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