Close in The Storm
The other day, my neighbor’s house burned down. It was shocking to wake up in the morning and find that the entire house was completely destroyed when just last night it was perfectly fine.
Throughout that day, all of the neighbors on the street were outside talking with one another. We talked about the tragedy of the lost home, our thankfulness that no one was hurt and that it was contained to just the one house. We talked about the weather, holiday plans, and how we were doing.
It struck me as interesting that in the midst of one neighbor losing his home, all of the others were out spending time together. I remember commenting to a neighbor, “Isn’t it crazy that tragedy seems to bring people together.”
Later that day, that thought nagged at me and when I stopped to consider why, I was struck with the spiritual implications of that idea and how, often when my life is going well, I get busy, I don’t take my decisions to my Heavenly Father in prayer like I ought. I just do what looks right in the moment and there are times in my life where it has taken a moment of tragedy to bring me closer to my Father.
See some of my neighbors I haven’t spoken to in months, even though we live next door to each other. Life is busy and we haven't made time to stand outside, just shooting the breeze.
The same is true of me spiritually, I get busy, overwhelmed, or so focused on what I can achieve on my own, that I neglect the conversations I could be having with my Heavenly Father.
But it is amazing how glaringly obvious my wandering away from His presence becomes in a moment of pain. Suddenly, I can sense the dangerous distance and I find that my trial enables me to come back into a place of intimacy and closeness with the Author and Creator of my soul.
In my life, pain and tragedy have always had this effect: they bring me to my knees in prayer. I wish I could claim that I only ever prayed devout and holy prayers, but in the midst of my pain, my prayers have often sounded like “God what the heck?! I prayed for protection, why didn’t you protect me?”
Or “God do you see me? Please rescue me?”
Even though I was the one that wandered away, that got ahead of God’s leading and tried to lead Him instead. I find that often my first prayers in the middle of suffering sound an awful lot like mistrust and blaming God, even though I was the one who made the choices that got me to that point.
And yet, His loving, patient, and merciful responses restore me to a place of intimacy and trust.
He reminds me that He passionately loves me. That I need to entrust my soul to Him because He created it and knows me better than I know myself. That I need to entrust the desires of my heart to Him and be patient for His perfect timing. That I need to cast my cares on Him. Why?? Because He takes care of me (I cannot take care of myself). He isn’t just a distant, uninvolved creator-God. He is intimately working in the lives of His children, and longs to share his love, vision, and hope with us. We don’t have to go through hard life experiences on our own: we get to go through them with our all-wise, all-understanding, all-holy, all-powerful Father.
Tragedy striking threatens us with insecurity, instability, uncertainty, and in general -fear. But when we turn and meet with our Father in prayer, in conversation, I find that peace He promised that transcends all comprehension.
If you find yourself going through a season of loss and uncertainty, please remember that His heart for us is good, His desire for our lives is for our good, and when we choose to keep our eyes fixed on Christ, we are able to walk through great life-storms and find that our house is safe and secure because of the bedrock foundation on which it is built (Matt. 7:24-27)
I leave you with this, that those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus can hold fast to this promise:
“When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.”
Trials happen to everyone, but for those of us who put our hope in Christ, we are blessed and protected even in the midst of the trial.