Happy Monday! Hope everyone is staying safe and dry! In honor of our little friend Sandy, I thought I’d re-post a Meg Kelsey original on hurricanes from way back in 2010. Enjoy and stay safe!
Storms are coming, literally! Our church service started with an announcement about the upcoming hurricane season, which is a big deal here in Miami. Our church has a special Hurricane Assistance Program for hurricane preparation, survival and recovery. Everyone is asked to fill out a bright orange form with a checklist of either the services you are able to offer or that you need help with, as well as materials/tools you could lend to a neighbor in need. What an important and resourceful ministry!
As Scott and I were checking off items, it hit me how much we need community in the event of a major storm. Even though I have been through hurricanes in Virginia, the announcement was a wake-up call to how serious the storm season can be in South Florida. I felt supported just knowing we can get help in preparing for and facing a storm, that we could borrow a chainsaw, satellite phone or even a pick-up truck if needed. Plus, a potential benefit once the storm has passed was alluded to in one of the checklist items to share: “A party house while we are off work.” Check!
Hurricanes can come in the emotional, relational and spiritual variety as well. The topic of the sermon and our small group discussion later in the evening was the all-consuming storm that Job endured in losing his family, home, and health. Both the sermon and the discussion were heavy emotionally. I found myself on the verge of tears as I heard the familiar story of Job’s devastating loss as well as the new stories of people in our community group who have suffered and dealt with horrendous storms. Part of me wanted to skip to the end of Job’s story and just celebrate the happy ending, his doubled blessings and increased prosperity. But storms are a fact of life. As Elizabeth said in Friday’s post and yesterday, there is no question about if we will have trouble, but rather John 16 assures us that we will indeed face storms.
But WHY do we face these storms? Last week Anna Kate wrote about having questions and turning to the Lord in uncertainty. One answer that always rings true : God is in control. A recent Oswald Chambers’ devotional said, “It is adversity that makes us exhibit His life in our mortal flesh… Our circumstances are the means God uses to exhibit just how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure His Son is.” I may not understand why I am facing a certain trial, or why a friend is being challenged by a certain storm, but we are promised that as our faith is refined in the fire of trial it brings honor to our Lord.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade… In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:3-7
Rather than an inward gaze, our focus should always be on the living hope through the resurrection of Jesus. In Elizabeth’s case, an actual hurricane before her wedding readjusted her priorities. And the sun shining through the clouds upon leaving the chapel was a bright and beautiful testimony to every single guest in attendance of God’s goodness and sovereignty. We all looked up to the sky in joyful disbelief!
But we don’t always have a literal ray of light to draw our gaze upward. In the same Oswald Chambers devo mentioned above, one question made me slightly uncomfortable: “Is my life exhibiting the essence of the sweetness of the Son of God, or just the basic irritation of ‘myself’ that I would have apart from Him?” When going through extreme adversity it is difficult to lift my eyes up. To cry ‘Woe is me!” feels so satisfying. However, I must remind myself that self-pity does absolutely nothing to advance the kingdom of God. I cannot exhibit anything sweet without losing myself and seeking more of the Lord.
Some trials, such as the death or sickness of a loved one, do bring such grief that it takes time to process the loss, to regain a genuine hope in His good plan. Tomorrow we will look more into the need for the support of community in general and especially during trials. Just as the Hurricane Assistance Program is a practical, living testimony of the love of Christ here in Miami, how we, as the body of Christ, love and support one another in all circumstances will be a testament to others of “how wonderfully perfect and extraordinarily pure the Son is.”
This Tuesday, amidst storm and adversity, we can rejoice in our Almighty God. Embedded below is a great Hillsong worship song. Sing aloud (or, if at work, read in your head emphatically) the empowering cry, that our Lord is stronger through the storm and through the fire. Let His name be lifted higher!
There is love that came for us, Humbled to a sinner’s crossYou broke my shame and sinfulness, You rose again, victorious
Faithfulness none can deny, Through the storm and through the fireThere is truth that sets me free: Jesus Christ, who lives in me
You are stronger, You are stronger. Sin is broken, You have saved meIt is written, “Christ is risen”. Jesus, You are Lord of all
No beginning, and no end, You’re my hope and my defenseYou came to seek and save the lost, You paid it all, upon the cross
So, let Your name be lifted higher. Be lifted higher, be lifted higherSo, let Your name be lifted higher. Be lifted higher, be lifted higher