‘When the storm is over, there’s nothing left of the wicked; good people, firm on their rock foundation, aren’t even fazed’ (Proverbs 10:25 – The Message).
One day, while driving across the western plains of New South Wales in the mid-summer, we were suddenly caught in the most terrific storm. It seemed to come from the smallest of clouds, yet it blew a gale and pelted horizontal hail and rain at us. Instantly, the road was under water and drains became raging torrents. Debris flew past and tree limbs crashed. Blinded, all we could do was pull up on the highway with our hazard lights on, hoping that no-one would run up the back of us. It was only a local storm and soon over, but for that short while it transformed the peaceful countryside into a world of danger.
In 1975 I visited Darwin soon after Cyclone Tracy and saw the devastation left in its wake. It must have been terrifying for those who experienced it.
I think of those in Fiji and the Pacific who have been struck twice recently, first by Cyclone Yasa and then Cyclone Ana.
Sometimes we can feel like the world itself is in the midst of a storm. Not necessarily a meteorological event, but an event involving change, loss, danger and destruction (think COVID-19). We might think the ground itself is moving under our feet – a sensation New Zealanders know all too well.
Truly, the world has been like this ever since humankind’s fall into sin. We might long for an imaginary halcyon time when everyone is happy and fulfilled. But history shows that whenever human beings come close to happiness, or whatever it is they seek, it doesn’t last. There is more substance in the promise than in the actual delivery. The Bible contains evidence of that over thousands of years of human history. Just when the people get it good, something – often what they themselves do – brings it all crashing down.
In response to the chaos self-seeking humans bring upon themselves, the Bible introduces us to a God who patiently and lovingly rescues his people over and over again. It’s a true miracle that we have survived and are still here to share the good news of God’s love for humankind. We owe him everything. However bad the storm may seem to us, God remains in control (see, for instance, Matthew 8:23-27 and Acts 27:18-26). His word is constant whatever happens. He does not need our endorsement or approval. We contribute nothing to his power and might. All the same, we struggle to accept our complete and utter dependence on him. Some even choose to deny his existence. But without him, we could not even take the next breath needed to finish reading this sentence. If God were to withdraw that breath, we would simply cease to be.
So, the storm itself is not our greatest risk. Our greatest risk is forgetting God. Storms will come and go – sometimes more than once. The word of the Lord, however, remains forever.
Your life might feel like a whirlwind. You might think the church you love is being tossed around by the winds of change and human desire. Sometimes the only thing to do is pull up, put the hazard lights on and wait for it to blow over, as we did on the road that day. But once the storm had passed, and we had checked for damage, we could go on our way once more.
Have confidence that this is God’s world. We are and remain God’s redeemed children. As baptised believers, we belong to God’s family, his church.
We will survive and be the stronger for it. All thanks and praise to him.