Having lived through Hurricane Andrew 25 years ago, I know what it is to have such a powerful and destructive force bearing down on you. In our case we were blissfully unaware that there even was a storm until the day before. I was out water skiing with the youth group from church when a ranger informed us there was one on the way! Needless to say we did not have much time to prepare. Robin dashed off to the store to stock up on some goods while I picked up anything in the yard that I thought could become a missile. We also invited three other families into our home as they either lived in the evacuation area or in mobile homes. As the storm rolled over our house, we all huddled in one bedroom, as it was the furthest from the front door which was obviously going to be blown off (and it was). I really don’t remember how long we were in the room, but I do remember the songs we sang, the sound of the wind, the image of my wife hunching over our two month old son, and the confidence that the Lord was with us – no matter what might happen. The aftermath was without doubt, very difficult. We had a gaping hole in the roof, a few punctured windows (in spite of the hurricane shutters), sliding patio doors blown out, leaves on the walls, water in the light fixtures – and we were the blessed ones! Power would not be restored for over three months – although we were blessed to have a generator to run the refrigerator and the fans.
All this brings me to think about the storms of life that we face. These storms may include a marriage that slowly goes bad, a sudden affair, a child who rebels, a loved one who dies suddenly – the list is endless. Sometimes we can see the storms off in the distance, sometimes we get a little warning – and sometimes none at all. Whatever the case, you can always be prepared for a storm through a constant use of the means of grace. By being in his word we are reminded that God is loving, that he is with us, and that he understands what it is to be in the storm himself (see the cross). In prayer we seek God to fill us with faith and confidence in him – to fill us with the Spirit of power and endurance. By remembering our baptism we are reminded of Christ’s great work in cleansing us from our sin and making us new creations. In the Lord’s supper we are strengthened by his grace as we partake by faith – rejoicing that we are in Christ and that Christ is in us. In worship we are reminded of the glory of God – of the fact that he is both sovereign and holy. Through the fellowship of the saints we learn from the lives of others how to be ready, and live through, whatever storm might come. All these help when the storm comes – they offer a firm foundation so we might not be shaken. This does not mean the storm will not be hard. It does not mean that the recovery may not take much time and effort – but it does mean that we will know the strength and the presence of God in a mighty way, so that we might not fear and be overwhelmed.
Yes – pray, and pray unceasingly for those who have just endured Hurricane Harvey and for those who are currently going through, and who will go through Hurricane Irma. Pray the Lord will send it out to sea, that he will protect life, that the church would step up in a mighty way to ease suffering and to provide needs. But pray also for those you know who are enduring the storms of life. And don’t forget to prepare for your own storms using the means God has given us.