The statistics for 2017 Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are too overwhelming to completely understand:
- 132 mph winds over Texas for 200 miles
- 185 mph winds over Florida and Caribbean for 790 miles
- 51.0 inches/19 trillion gallons rain in TX, 5.5 trillion gallons in Louisiana from Harvey
- 10 trillion gallons rain from Irma
- 336,000 people in Texas left without power at height of Harvey disaster
- 7 million people in Florida without power from Irma
- 70+ people died from Harvey
- 53+ people died from Irma
- $190 billion damage price tag for Harvey
- $100 billion damage price tag for Irma
The long-lasting impact of such storms will be in economic consequences and health-related concerns as molds and bacteria enter the flooded environments. Lost homes, lost livelihoods, and lost dreams crashed into daily life for victims during the crisis and for years following, even when the sun and blue skies reappeared.
Storms of Life
Bad weather joins the list of storms that batter everyone in this earthly life. Problems regarding money, marriage, children, work, no-work, illness, injury, and legal issues can hit with no more notice than a hurricane. We should not act surprised when circumstances blow us against the rocks when Jesus Himself told us we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33).
We can do our best to prepare and guard ourselves and possessions against disasters, but we cannot escape the eventual personal experience of pain and catastrophe. What should our response be?
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Choosing Your Response
Curse the circumstances? Strike back at the people involved with the tragedy? Lose all hope and motivation to carry on? Shake our fists toward Heaven?
For those dependent on their own efforts, their best plans, their talents and material resources, and people they have trusted and invested in during their lives, calamity makes no sense and throws them into a sad state of disbelief and paralysis. They built wisely from a human standpoint, but what is understandable or preventable about a hurricane or cancer or stock-market crash or terrorist attack? This type of human-created strategy is like building on sand, open to shifting and uncontrollable elements.
For those dependent on the sovereignty of God and love of their Savior Jesus, the misfortune and adversity is no less difficult to walk through but does not strike at the very foundation of life’s purpose. We know we are part of God’s plans for mankind to come to know Him and His Son for this present time and Eternity. The events on earth are passing trials that make take our fortunes and our very lives, but not negate our purposeful place in God’s family and destination in Paradise after death.
F-Words and God’s Answers
We say, “I can’t do this! I am too weak, too feeble!” God replies, “Yes, your strength will fail you. Take my strength which is unlimited.” (1 Chronicles 16:11)
We say, “I don’t think I can believe in a God who allows this trouble! I am fickle and I have doubts.” God says, “I am the beginning and the end. I know all that has happened and will happen to you, but my plans will work toward your good.” (Romans 8:28)
We say, “One day I am able to trust, but the next day, I am afraid! I am floundering!” God says, “I am a rock. Lean on me, not your own assessments and understandings of the circumstances.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
We say, “I am losing the ability to stand through this trial. I am falling into despair!” God says, “I will raise you up and hold you firmly. There is an anchor behind this veil and sunny skies ahead.” (Hebrews 6:19)
We say, “I am a victim of things out of my control. Where is my freedom to choose my future?” God says, “Your life surrendered to Me, to My love and care is true freedom from the worries and evil of this world. I have your best in mind, even when things look bleak.” (I Peter 2:16)
We say, “I cannot forgive the things that happened to me, what people did to me! How can I trust You, God or anyone?” God says, “I sent my only Son to pay for the many wrongs you have done and will do, and to offer you a place in My family, My eternity. If you can accept my forgiveness for everything you have thought or done against my perfect, righteous ways, how can you not forgive others? I will help you.” (Matthew 6:15)
We say, “There is no future for me, only fear and failure. There is no hope for me.”God says, “I have given you all you need for future hope in My Son and in My Word. Let me teach you about your true worth in My eyes.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Our Best Defense to the Storms
Three times in the New Testament (Matt 8:23-27; Mark 4:37-41; Luke 8:23-25) the writers detailed the story about Jesus sleeping through a storm while in a boat with the disciples. They became afraid and woke Him to ask for His help, His salvation from the threatening waves. He spoke to the wind and water and commanded them to be still. Nature forces obeyed. The disciples exchanged one terror for another.
Who is this man?
When trouble hits us, our best response is to call out to Jesus, the One who came close took human form and experienced our frail, fleshly life. We should recall exactly who He is, what He has already accomplished in His death and resurrection, and what He has promised to those who call upon His name. Storms will come. He is right in the wind and rain with us. Watch what He does on our behalf.
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Gail Goolsby, MA, MEd is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. Gail and her pastor husband of 39 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well.