The recent events in my home state of Florida have pulled me back to a word of hope I think our world needs in these challenging times. “You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm…” Isaiah 25:4. In our post-Covid world, so many are asking what use God is. After having lived without Sunday worship for months and months, people have gotten used to the fallacy that we can live without God. And then a storm hits, and we are brought back to the reminder that we are vulnerable and not immortal.
Throughout the Bible, time and time again Israel, like us, faced storms, some physical, like the disciples on the Lake with Jesus or Ian the Hurricane. Other times the storm is something more figurative, like the storms of enemies, illness, homelessness, and wars, we even named one of our battles, Desert Storm. In any of these moments we instinctively look for security.
The challenge is to find what truly gives us security. Certain things, like money and power, may seem to hold off most storms, but none of them will protect us from the storm we all dread the most, death. This is why we need God, because He gives us true shelter. We often forget that God the Father did not take the storm of death away from His own Son, but He gave Him, and us who believe, the shelter of knowing this world is not all there is. The shelter God gives us is that our true home is not here, but with Him in heaven.
For several weeks our readings have focused on not being attached to things and storms, like Ian, bring this message home. The things of our life will all be blown away. The year before I entered seminary, I experienced a flood in Florida with 2 feet of water in my apartment. I lost about a 1/3 of my possessions. It brought me back to the reality that this life is a passing moment. Nothing is permanent, not my health, not my bank account, not my childhood home, or the Springfield we used to know.
You are our refuge O Lord. Sometimes with prayer, we are spared from the storms of life, like cancer or unemployment, but at other times we are not. Some people prayed and still died in this storm. Ecclesiastes reminds us there is a season for everything. The storms of life are invitations to put our trust in what is bigger than our problems, what is bigger than our fears, into what lasts, and that is God. God is our shelter, our protection, the one who will not leave us in the storms of life, and He asks us to do the same for each other and with our help that shelter will be with us at every moment.
With a heart for Mission,