Right now, storms dominate the news. All kinds of storms: weather, political, and international. As always, relationship storms and personal tragedies abound.
Recently our adopted country, Malaysia, has been rocked by several storms. One was the disappearance of MH370. People are still talking about it, puzzled about what happened to the plane and the people. Then, within months, MH17 was shot down over the Ukraine. There is a lingering sense of uncertainty about air travel here. Some have even tried to say that these two events are portents of spiritual importance.
All over the earth, perhaps even where you live, there are earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, droughts and forest fires. Everyone everywhere has been affected in some way by these destructive events.
Perhaps nature isn’t hassling you right now, and you do not live under the threat of terrorist attack. But I am quite sure that many of you are in the turmoil of personal storms: broken relationships, children straying from the faith, or taking up hurtful lifestyles. Perhaps even a loved one’s death.
Storms are not optional. They will come. How do we endure them? How do we survive them?
I’m reading a book by Marie Monville called One Light Still Shines. Her peaceful, happy world blew apart when her loving husband and the good dad to their children murdered five girls and critically injured five more at an Amish school. I am sure you remember the incident in 2006. With all the tragedies in the world, this one seemed to stand out because it happened to the peace-loving Amish.
Marie describes her first reaction to the news. She opened her arms heavenward and re-surrendered her family and herself to God’s care. She prayed, “Oh, God, whatever you can do with this situation, in any place you can bring good from bad, wherever you’ve declared a victory, let it be.” That is a great first response, but sadly, not always the kind we make.
She said, “Suddenly I found myself standing with a boldness and confidence I had never known. I began declaring Bible verses of God’s promises of care and protection over my household. I called out for the provision of the Lord and told him I trusted his ability to bring good out of any situation. I felt like the teen-aged Mary, who yielded herself to an unknown future by saying, ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’ (Luke 1:38).”
When our car was stolen while we served in Africa, our friends gathered in our living room, as shocked as we were by the theft. My husband led us in prayer, thanking God for all the things we have that could not be stolen. That prayer was not natural for him, but it was the prayer that saved us from a lot of damaging thoughts.
We often cannot control our first reaction to terrible news. But what we have been storing up in our hearts will pour out our mouth. Marie would not have been able to surrender to God and quote that flood of Scripture if that treasure were not in her heart. Thankfulness in the face of loss will not be our natural reaction, unless our hearts have been changed by God.
Marie found strength to get through those horrible first days. Friends and family surrounding her and her children. And as the world knows, the Amish community showed truly amazing grace. There were few words that helped, but the outpouring of thoughtfulness and generosity provided all she needed. Our relationships before the storm will be anchors through the storm.
Trusted prayer partners can hold up our arms while the fight continues, like Aaron and Hur helped Moses. (Exo. 17:12) Sometimes we are too overwhelmed or tired to even form prayers, that’s when we will be so thankful we cultivated trustworthy prayer partners to help us.
Perhaps you’d like to pray with me:
“Father God, I’m so thankful that You don’t abandon us in the storm, but uphold us in ways we wouldn’t know to ask for. Please help me to store Your Word in my heart for the day of trouble. Help me know You so well that nothing the enemy shouts at me causes me to doubt Your love or ability to help. Show me the people who can support me and that I should support in turn. Thank you, Father, for being our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble. Amen”
P.S. You can get One Light Still Shines in hardback or Kindle versions at Amazon.com.