Regaining strength at this point? Unexpected, but happening. For an amateur meteorologist like myself, this has been the most puzzling and unpredictable hurricane I’ve ever observed. How many different paths have been proposed? How many watches and warnings have been issued, only to be rescinded? When is the last time you remember any storm sitting still – hour upon hour – and wreaking havoc on the helpless people below?
More questions than answers.
Since I was a little boy, I have always loved weather, weather maps, and weather forecasts. But this early hurricane season has been a stretch in terms of putting all of us in our place. It reminds me of Mark 4, where “a great windstorm arose” as the disciples and Jesus were in the boat. The Bible records that the storm grew so intense that “the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.” From the perspective of those men, there was severe danger all around – and they felt helpless. An imminent threat was upon them, yet Jesus was asleep.
I thought I’d take some time this morning to talk with you about our storms in general – meteorological and otherwise. Please allow me to make a few practical applications from Mark 4, as well as a few observations about the now-upgraded Category 3 hurricane moving in on Charleston – and perhaps even Myrtle Beach.
- No storm, of any real threat at least, seems necessary or purposeful when it’s upon us. Even when it’s been predicted, it’s unsettling to us at best. We know that storms are coming – at least we assent to that in theory – but in our humanness, we’re also nearly always caught off guard by storms when they strike. We can lose our sense of peace in an instant and usually do.
- Storms – and Dorian is a perfect example of this – re-confront us with the problem of evil and suffering in our world. No theology can make perfect sense of it this side of heaven. We know that Christ has overcome the world, but it’s hard to see why countless lives have to be lost in the Bahamas. If you completely understand that, then you’re farther along than I. What I’m trying to say, friends, is that you and I have to live for God even in those seasons when we have more questions than answers.
- There is wonder, if we can possibly grasp it, in the unpredictability of the world around us: storms and all! When we can’t decipher the next 24 hours, we are forced to remember that “the Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” That great passage from God’s songbook goes on to say that “he founded it upon the seas …” There truly is no rogue hurricane. There is no senseless cyclone or tornado. There is no Mother Nature, but there is a Father God. And He is always, always good.
- It’s certainly O.K. for us to pray for God to steer one of our life’s storms harmlessly out to sea. He wants to hear all of our requests. But you and I must be watchful and ready to accept the reality that such may not be His plan. (Facing reality is sometimes a necessary part of our faith.) Sometimes we have to hunker down and wait. Sometimes we have to board up the windows in a season of uncertainty, trusting our Creator to restore our vision later on when only He knows is best.
- The process of aging may, and in fact should, strengthen our faith – but aging does not take away all fear. In fact, some of our fears get magnified as we face seasons of life where we feel battered by what can seem like loss upon loss. We desperately need the encouragement of our sisters and brothers in Christ when we’re in the eye of the storm. So hold tightly to each other now so that your crew will be intact when you need them.
- Just as Jesus was asleep in that boat, so it may appear to us at times like nothing is happening for our good. But this is never true. We have it on excellent authority that everything around us – and in fact, everything happening to us – is purposed for our good and for God’s glory! When a crisis strikes close to home, we must remember that Christ is always closer. God is for us, always.
- And just as Dorian will soon join the annals of history, it may be that even the wackiness of our weather is God’s daily memo to us that: “This too shall pass.” This too shall pass. So keep your chin up, Beloved of God, and keep your eyes tilted skyward. Our Christ will take us soon to a place of far-fairer skies.
It would do us some good today to respond like the disciples: “with great fear.” Not fear of Dorian, mind you, but fear of the God who rules over Dorian. He also rules over us. “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”