Seeing the destruction from last night’s storms ignites memories and scratches at old scars. How do we make sense of these kinds of things? So many people affected, so many lives changed forever in a moment, without warning, without time to prepare. And how does one really prepare for the smashing of a life anyway? I have tried. I have been there. One wild storm years ago took all we had. We prepared. We went through the motions and gathered the irreplaceable. And still, all of the physical was lost.
And since then, there have been more storms, more losses, more upheavals and displacements. More un-planned for journeys, more tragedies, and all the while God has blessed abundantly. While the winds rage and debris scatters to the four corners of our world, God reigns supreme. His holy hand moves over us and we feel the loss and crushing, we wonder why he allows this…
Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” Job 1:10
God in his mercy allows these things to turn us upside down, to wipe our lives clean from distractions, to draw us to himself- we cling tighter to him when there is nothing else to cling to. Why is this? This is our foolishness. Why aren’t we clinging tightly from the beginning?
I don’t pretend to know God’s reasons for all of the loss and destruction throughout the world. I only know how it has been in my own life, I know with each event, with each shattering, the question lingers, why? Sometimes, I don’t really think the why of it matters much.
And these are but the outer fringe of his works; ?how faint the whisper we hear of him!? Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” Job 26:14
I trust that God is sovereign, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,? neither are your ways my ways,”?declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
Further still, when I read his words in Isaiah, I am comforted,
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,? so are my ways higher than your ways? and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow? come down from heaven,? and do not return to it? without watering the earth? and making it bud and flourish, ?so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:? It will not return to me empty,? but will accomplish what I desire? and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:9-11
God is faithful and has his purposes. I trust that when he removes all that is sacred to us and special in our lives, leaving us standing broken among the rubble, it is not because he doesn’t love us, but in fact because he loves us that much. God performs tremendous acts of love through heartbreaking upheaval. I think of the cross, of Christ hanging on a tree for me. What a wild act of love! What an absurd and terrible thing it seems, to us who cannot grasp love to that capacity, even unto death. And yet, that was God’s greatest act of love for his people. When God removes the familiar, when he allows all that distracts to be ripped away, we can curse him, or we can praise him in the face of it. This IS the hard thanksgiving we are made for.
I will extol the Lord at all times;? his praise will always be on my lips. Psalm 34:1 (emphasis mine)
Years after my own survival, the storm that ended life as I knew it, I can see his good hand in it. My life is categorized into two pieces, B.A (Before Andrew) and A.A. (After Andrew), for it was through that storm that God revealed himself.
He’d been whispering for years. The foundation had long been laid. We didn’t know it. We were busy living, busy planning, buying, working, playing. And when that time came, his breathy whispers turned into hurricane force winds and whipped up all we knew into a slurry, our life tossed into a blender, the physical collections, the ‘stuff’ that filled our house pureed into the unrecognizable… laying us bare, stripped of that which we had used as comfort all those years. Souvenirs lost and broken, keepsakes tossed to the winds, erased by floods and filth. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis
God in his good mercy allows us to suffer, that we may be made more like him.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
My own journey from the rubble to now has been a curious one. God continues to show himself in mighty and quiet ways, sometimes moving like a gentle breeze and other times, ripping the roof off to blow hard and get my attention. In each instance though, I am learning to say Alleluia anyway. In the face of whatever he sends, whatever way he moves, I am learning to praise him. That’s ultimately what we are called to do, we are made to praise and when our lives are nothing but a shadow, nothing but broken pieces and shards that cut, we Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
My heart is with those who suffer today. Praying that this destruction and loss will be a catalyst for renewed faith and hope in Christ, and that you are encouraged that his heart breaks with you. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them. Psalm 34:7
Fear the Lord, you his holy people, ?for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, ?but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:9-10
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;? may the name of the Lord be praised.”