A great deal of tragedy has struck in the past week in our country’s Midwest. Literally dropping out of the sky, destruction and terror descended unexpectedly into the lives of people who were simply going about their daily activities and minding their own business. Like so many, they had no idea beforehand the ordeal that would sweep away routines, livelihoods, homes, and in some cases lives of loved ones.
I am glad to see how people are working in response to save lives, rescue survivors, and comfort those who have been especially devastated by the disasters like those that have hit Nebraska and the Dakotas. It is especially significant to me to see how God’s people have rallied to help via the many trained disaster relief workers who are going to help in the immediate crisis but also in the days to come. Tragedy and disaster cannot be made as if they have not happened, but a Christ-like compassion in others renews hope and drives fear away.
Perhaps it occurs to you, as it does to me, that these deadly twisters are reminiscent of circumstances and trials that unexpectedly drop out of metaphorical skies into the lives of people everyday. Of course, we may know of people (or may even be those people) who, like storm chasers, seem to go out of their way to get as close as possible to trouble (some for the thrill of it but some to learn more about the tornadoes so that lives might be saved). Nevertheless, even when you are not looking for trouble, trouble sometimes finds you anyway.
Some will say that if you accumulate enough good “karma” that you will avoid trouble, or if you have enough faith, trouble will not come to you. Perhaps you know of someone who believes in “luck” and calculates his propensity for trouble (or for escaping it) by trying to determine how lucky he is or by carefully reading horoscopes and so forth.
But even Jesus Himself had “trouble”, which is to say that He experienced uncomfortable, painful and sorrowful situations in the days prior to His ascension into heaven. Those things were not the result of His going out of His way to find such trouble nor were they the result of His being negligent with daily opportunities to make for Himself a life of prosperity and/or ease. They were simply the circumstances that arose in His life as He engaged the world.
Mockers, disloyal friends, rejection, conspiracy, betrayal, pain, humiliation, and death were “troubles” or “storms” that arose in His life that allowed Him to demonstrate the extent of His faithfulness to the Father, His love for us, and His commitment to conquer the troubles that beset Him with a victory so complete that we, as His followers, would inherit a rock-solid assurance that sustains us when twisters of trouble suddenly and unexpectedly drop down onto us.
Jesus comforted His disciples with words that are meant also for us today. “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 ESV).
What kinds of troubles are swirling around you right now? What vortexes of confusion, doubt, and fear are threatening to turn your life upside down? Whatever the occasion, the victory of Jesus is found in His not only overcoming death, but in guaranteeing us an eternal place of belonging. Whatever storm may be beating up on you right now will, sooner or later, have to pass. Who awaits you on the other side of your storm? God!
Simply trust that it is God’s plan that the winds eventually will give way again to peace, that hailstones of hurt and doubts will finally have to end, and that wounds you have suffered will be bound up and healed by the hands of God.
When I find myself discouraged and I wonder if I can survive another storm, God's Holy Spirit reminds me that even if all the world is lost to me, He has heaven in store for me. So if you are finding yourself a victim to troubles that are threatening to spin your life out of control, remember the One Who sometimes calms our storms but sometimes chooses to walk with us through them. It could very well be that He is striving to help us know Him better and give others in the world through us a glimpse of grace and hope that no wind on earth can possibly blow away.