Hope in the storm

Hurricane Irma is scheduled to start her run Sunday up the spine of Florida–a State I have many ties to.  It’s a unique display of the destructive chaos of a fallen universe.  I don’t put much stock in leaders who often jump to declare individual disasters as specific judgments from God for specific failures of a group of people.  The Bible certainly confirms He has done so in the past.  And we live in an age literally hell-bent on thumbing our nose at God.  But I believe in this age of Grace we now live since the sacrifice of Christ, these “acts of God” are less often conscious action on His part than they are inaction to stop the built-in consequences of a creation frustrated under the weight of sin.

There are two things to consider here from God’s view.  First, the world increasingly rejects anything to do with Him.  Second, times of catastrophe focus us on what’s truly important and necessary far more than do times of calm and comfort.  So rather than seeing God as a cosmic killjoy looking for excuses to hurl lightning bolts at wrongdoers, I believe the better analogy is one of a rejected Lover who has sadly granted our world’s desire to leave His presence and prescriptions, and as a consequence lose His protection as well.

But that’s the “big picture,” so to speak.  The wondrous part of all this is that God doesn’t just deal with humanity.  Or a specific nation.  Or a specific city.  He treats with each of us individually, desiring a personal relationship based on reciprocal love.  This is unlike any “religious” conception on earth: the Creator desiring individual communion with His created.  Despite humanity’s sinful nature He cares for us and hears us — our needs, wants, fears, and confessions.  Just this week a family I know was stranded far from home with a broken car well after business hours.  Yet God answered their pleas for help with an amazing turn of events that brought the right people (including an off-duty mechanic) and provided the resources to get them safely on their way again.

So in the midst of the storm; in the midst of the effects of the rule of this present darkness, we all have the privilege to seek shelter through prayer in the love of the Father, made possible by His Son, Jesus Christ.  It’s not simply a “get out of jail free” card, or some kind of magic spell to ward off tragedy.  No, this presence He offers provides comfort, perspective, and strength regardless of what happens physically:

(King) Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, lyre, trigon, harp, bagpipe, and every kind of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, well and good.  But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

That is the comfort and strength I’m talking about: the confidence to trust God, obey Him, and let Him work all things for the good of those who love HimIt may not be the “good” we think we want.  “Unfair” things will happen.  We may lose our jobs.  Our earthly possessions.  Even our life.  But for those who love God and trust Him, any and all of that pales in comparison to the eternal joy that awaits us when we see Him face to face.

Everyone reading this is facing storms.  It may not be a Category 4 hurricane, but we each have pressures that threaten to crush us.  Know there is a God who cares for you, who is far more powerful than any storm you could face, and who desires what He knows is the best for you.  Ask Him for peace.  For calm in the midst of the storm.  And    *Even If*    it seems the storm has taken everything away from you, know that if your trust is in God you already have everything you need.  There is nothing that can take that away from you.

Nothing.

May the Lord bless and keep us all, according to His good will.

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