I posted the following in a private Bible reading Facebook group I lead, but wanted to make this more widely available. To God be the glory.
It is Wednesday morning. I went to bed last night with a heavy heart as I pondered the news of elementary school kids in Uvalde, TX slaughtered by an 18-year-old gunman. I have seen different numbers but it looks like 14 kids (2nd, 3rd or 4th graders – the ages of my kids) and a teacher. I am sure numbers will be updated as time goes on. As I pondered this news, praying and wondering, I was preparing to schedule our morning devotion for today. I had it written and ready, but I couldn’t do it. Instead I am writting this. I felt I needed to stop and acknowledge those who died, and to acknowledge the evil in this world that took their lives.
I am tempted to say something politcial right now, but instead I am turning my attention to the One who is in control. You see, God is still God. Jesus still reigns. Satan is still defeated. And death? Yes, that too will be gone someday. In the mean time, we live in a world of evil as sin fills our hearts and Satan works to drive a wedge between people. And I see that Happening today. With every tragic event like this, the rhetoric ramps up, people fire their attacks at one another and the divide gets wider and wider. Solutions seem to be simple and straightforward. The only difference is who you ask. Ask people of this world and the answer is stricter laws. Ask those who find their peace under the Lordship of Jesus, the answer is right in front of us: Jesus. Does this mean we just sit back and be push overs? No! We stand up and fight. But more than that, we pray, pray and pray some more. We appeal to God in the name of Jesus and find our hope in the One who made all things and all people. In the words of Job, who’s world was falling apart around him, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” (Job 19:25-27) Yes, my heart does faint within me today, but my Redeemers lives, thus my hope is not lost.
And so, I say it again and again: Pray. Remember the families who lost loved ones. Remember the grieving community. Remember the emergency workers who can not unsee the things they have seen. Remember and pray. Lord, in Your mercy…
I love storms…
…especially if they don’t cause lots of damage and no one gets hurt. When a good ole fashioned summer thunderstorm rolls in I am all eyes and ears. One time when I was in seminary, a tornado warning was issued for my area. People in my dorm were heading downstairs to the storm shelter but I took a detour…I went outside to see if I could see the funnel. No such luck. Recently I attended a storm spotters training session lead by a guy from the National Weather Service out of Sioux Falls, SD. I went not to become a weather spotter, but because I like storms; I want to know what I am looking at. I learned a lot and plan to attend more spotter training classes to hone my weather knowledge…because I love storms.
Casting Crowns sings a song that my wife and I really like called “Praise You in the Storm”. Since this is a Christian song they are obviously not talking about a summer thunderstorm, but referring to the ole cliche…”the storms of life”. We all encounter them but the difference is how we react to them: Do we run and hide; crumble under the pressure; curse the storm (and maybe curse God); or do we look at the storm as something that can build us up. In the Gospel text for this Sunday (Pentecost 3) from Mark 4:35-41, the disciples are in a boat with Jesus when a nasty storm pops up. Jesus is sleeping but the disciples are scared silly. Pushed to their breaking point they wake Jesus up and accuse him of not caring for them. Jesus rebukes the wind and the storm becomes quiet. He then says “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
In Job, Job is questioning God about why this suffering has come upon him when God finally speaks up and says “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” Etc, etc… Job has no other reply than “I know that you can do all things; no plan of your can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2) The storms of life will not “thwart” any plan that God has and therefore we can have faith and trust that God has still won the day.
How do you respond to “storms”? Do you run and hide? Do you crumble under the pressure? Do you curse God?
Do you “Praise Him in the Storm”?
We can praise God in the storm because God has overcome this world through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ FOR YOU and FOR ME. A mere thunderstorm can never define you. A tornado can not take away what God has given you. A hurricane can not have power over God.
God may not take away the storms in your life, but one thing is for sure…God will be with us through the storm; we will never be alone. When the next storm brews and threatens all you have…give praise to God for the life you have in Jesus Christ and let the world’s storms take their best shot…you already have a home that no thunderstorm can destroy. For that…I will praise God in the sun, wind, rain, clouds…and…I will praise God in the storm.
Praise be to God…ALWAYS and forever, Amen.