It was cold and dark. And while the stars started out, they didn’t stay. Suddenly, the wind picked up. By “picked up” I mean that the wind blew away anything that wasn’t tied down. It screamed through the trees. And knocked over tents. And then the skies opened up. And the rain came pouring down.
We were five nights out on our trip. It had seemed like a good idea to take the youth of my church on a hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail. And in fact, it had been a wonderful experience. Until that night, the weather had been beautiful. But now I was huddled under a plastic tarp. And the truth is, I was afraid. There is something about being several thousand feet closer to the sky that makes storms appear so much more violent. Not to mention the inability to go anywhere. Where was I going to go? I couldn’t avoid it. I was in it.
Sort of like now. We are in a storm. A perfect storm of illness, isolation, financial uncertainty and an unknown future. Not to mention the lack of options. Where are we going to go? The hurricane comes and we can run to another part of the state. Or we can hunker down knowing that it will all blow over in a few days. But not now. And truth be told it’s a bit scary.
I was reading in my devotional the other day. It’s called Streams in the Desert by L.B.E. Cowman. And it was talking about the different storms we encounter in life. And how they can often spur us towards God. The storms of temptation for example, can appear cruel. But they can also increase the intensity and honesty of our prayers. And the storms of grief. They are difficult. But they can also deepen our dependence upon God. Cowman wasn’t saying that God caused the storms. But rather that God could use the storms to strengthen our faith and deepen our relationship with God.
Which leads me to wonder. How are you doing in this COVID-19 storm? These days, are you more aware of God’s presence? Or less? Are you being led closer to the arms of Christ? Or farther away? The Psalmist in Psalm 121 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip. He who watches over you will not slumber.”
There is an old story about a hiker that got too close to the rim of a canyon and plunged over. Halfway down he crashes into a branch and grabs ahold for dear life. As he is hanging there, he begins to call for help. Help. Help. Can anyone hear me? And this voice comes down from heaven. Yes, I hear you. Who’s there? It’s me – God. Oh, thank you says the hiker. Please help me. There is no way for me to get up. To which God says – just let go of the branch and I will catch you. The hiker thinks for a moment and yells. Is there anyone else up there?
In other words, it takes faith. God is our strength. And God is our help. God is vigilante and will not rest in His provision. The question is: Do we trust Him? Are we placing our faith in Him? Or are we distracted by the storm clouds? “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
I am praying for you. And I am asking for God’s blessing and God’s provision. And that God would strengthen your faith during this storm. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.