28 Sep Making It Through The Storms
We’ve just come through a really devastating storm. At 400 miles wide, Irma was the largest hurricane the Atlantic Ocean has ever seen. Prior to the storm, people were panicking, fighting over water, generators, food and supplies. The store shelves were empty of everything. Every 30 minutes the news was breaking in with updates on the hurricane. The highways became parking lots as people tried to leave Florida, in what was to be the largest evacuation in US history.
Everyone’s eyes were on the storm and fear was in the air.
We do the same thing in our own lives when we know a storm is coming, even when the storm is quick and unexpected like a job loss, the death of a loved one, an illness, or the bank taking our home. We get caught up in the force of it, spinning as if we are in the midst of a hurricane.
We become afraid, panicked, searching for answers or solutions, reacting haphazardly, as if being thrown around by the wind.
This hurricane came right on the heels of devastation to Texas with Hurricane Harvey. People barely had a chance to recover when Irma hit, so the fear was rampant in people’s hearts.
Some of you have been there when bad things happened in your life in rapid succession. You feel like you were hit, boom with one thing, then suddenly boom, with another thing.
Sometimes God does allow things to happen in our lives for several reasons. He uses circumstances to draw us closer to Him. He uses difficult situations to display His power and glory. He changes lives this way and creates a foundation in us for immoveable, unshakeable faith. No one learns to fully trust in God without His using life circumstances to show us.
When something is clearly out of our power and control, we are forced to step back and ask God for help. We surrender control to God and that’s when we see faith in action. God answers prayers. He does the impossible and makes a way where there was none because he loves us and wants us to draw closer to Him. God absolutely delights in helping us.
During this storm we also saw churches coming together to pray, people gathering at the beach to pray, families praying together, prayers being posted on social media constantly.
This is the clear difference in the face of a storm – people who panic and people who pray.
We are in a situation right now in our country where the news is so fast-coming, disasters are happening in multiples, people are divided more drastically than at any other time. We grow numb just watching the news.
From fires burning in five states, to hurricanes, to earthquakes, to flooding, to terrorist attacks, to crime, to racial tension, we can barely take a breath. It is very easy to get overwhelmed and give up. It’s easy to think that God has given up on us and we lose our passion for Jesus.
But God gives us reassurance in this scripture. It’s as if He wrote it for just a time as this.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
What you need to remember is that God has a plan for this earth and for all mankind. We are not being thrown about haphazardly, but God is definitely trying to get the attention of the world. Mankind is not a failed experiment by God. He did not create us all without knowing where it would all go. He did it with a specific purpose in mind and He could never abandon His own creation, just as you could not abandon your own children when they needed you most.
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3:16. God loves all men.
In Luke 6:35 Jesus says, ‘because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked’.
It is God’s hope that, as many as can be saved will be saved.
We, as the Body of Christ, have to look beyond the storm. If we get caught up in the fires and the wind and the waters and whirl about uncontrollably, then we miss the bigger picture –that God has a plan for this world and for each of us. Satan has reign over this word for now. He is creating chaos and havoc all over the earth. Politics, religion, race, territories, are all causing extreme hatred and division. We cannot get caught up in any of this.
God does not care about the color of your skin or where you are from. He loves us all the same. We cannot love anyone less because they are different from us. We cannot get caught up in the militant ramblings of celebrities or politicians or leaders. We cannot keep our eyes on the storm.
We have to keep our eyes on Jesus. We have to pray every day for God to draw us nearer, to reveal our weaknesses to our own eyes, to strengthen us, to help us, and to do our part to share the love of Jesus with others.
Nothing matters more than trusting in Jesus and making sure that those around us, and the ones we know and love, know that God loves them, that Jesus died for their sins and that He is coming back for us.
If you keep your eyes on the storms in your life, you will always be afraid and you will never experience the fullness of God’s incredible power and glory. God is not trying to hurt us. God is not picking on you personally.
Joshua 1:9 tells us to ‘be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you may go.’
Now is the time to learn to be strong, to stand on your own feet, to trust in God first, to pray in the face of any storm. Don’t be swept about in fear. At the first sign of trouble, at the very onset of any storm, stop and pray. Ask God for help. Surrender it all to Him to provide, to remove, to prepare a way where there is none.
Jesus Christ is calling each of us to grow up, to no longer act as babies. We have to love one another. We have to encourage one another. We have to care about each other regardless of skin color, regardless of political party, regardless of religious beliefs.
I may not agree with everything you believe in, but I know God loves you as His Word says. And so I love you.
As for me —
I will not be involved in division in any way.
I will pray for you and for everyone.
I will pray for God to show me where I am weak and where I need improvement.
I will not be a part of the problem; I will be a part of the solution.
We have to read and remember the things that Jesus did that will serve as reminders to us now of His great power.
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
Jesus is the Son of God and He has come to save mankind.
Jesus said in Hebrews 10:5,
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
“Remember this, keep it in mind,
take it to heart, you rebels.
Remember the former things, those of long ago;
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me.
I make known the end from the beginning,
from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
and I will do all that I please.’
From the east I summon a bird of prey;
from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
what I have planned, that I will do.
God has a plan. We have to trust in that plan, especially now as we are bombarded with so many terrible things that are out of our control. We cannot grow numb to it, but we must pray and keep praying and know that we are part of God’s plan.
We cannot waste any more time being solely focused on our own problems. We have to see the bigger picture of God’s plan and know our role in it.
As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
We will grow strong and not weary.
We will proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We will not be thrown about by fear, but keep our eyes on Jesus.
We will pray for revival and for the world to come to know Jesus.
We will remember that no weapon formed against us shall prosper.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe.
I am a child of the Living God and nothing shall separate me from the love of God.
Jesus, you the only Son of God, who command the wind and the seas, you who raise the dead and heal the sick, we give you all praise and all glory. Help us Lord to trust in you and to have faith in the face of the storms we go through. Open our minds and our hearts to receive you fully, to grow in wisdom and strength and to see the bigger picture of your plan. Amen.