Hurricane Michael recently swept through the Southeastern corner of our country wreaking havoc and devastation, leaving countless homes, businesses and churches demolished. It is hard to look at the pictures of such utter destruction and comprehend the vast area that was affected by the storm.
At first there is shock and wonder at the power and destructive force that could simply wipe away hundreds of buildings like toys on a table. We feel for those we see on the news, plundering through piles of debris, just hoping to find anything that they can salvage. Certainly many of those who suffered loss have good insurance and will be able to come back and rebuild what was destroyed. But typically in the path of terrible storms there are those who have lost everything and have no hope of recovering, and seeing those stories on the news is heartbreaking. Worst of all are the stories of lives tragically lost as a result of wind or water.
As I look at those images and hear the stories of loss I am flooded with varied thoughts and emotions, as I’m sure you are. One of the first thoughts that I have is (and it is admittedly a selfish one) “Thank God it’s not my house, or my family, or my community!” I would never wish anything like that on anyone, but it makes me aware of, and truly grateful for God‘s gracious protection on a daily basis. We are so very blessed! It shouldn’t take the suffering of others to make us aware of it, but it does serve as a reminder that we need to thank Him every day for all He does for us.
Another question that comes to my mind is “If that was my house, or my family, how would I respond?” I guess we really don’t know for sure how we will act in a specific circumstance, but I hope when I am put in a hard place like that, I will have the wisdom to be like Job; when he had everything that was valuable to him taken away, he said “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD." And the Bible goes on to say in the next verse “In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Job didn’t get angry with God, or blame Him for all the terrible things that had happened.
I really am amazed at this story. Job had enough insight into God’s nature and character to know that He permitted these things to happen; and even though He could have stopped them. He still deserves our praise and our worship. Job’s faith demonstrates a profound trust in who God is; that in spite of terrible circumstances God is in control, and He is going to take care of him no matter what it looks like at the moment.
The apostle Paul beautifully speaks to this problem in Philippians 4:11-13 …. for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Please look at that last sentence one more time. Paul is about to give the answer to this age old problem! He has learned the secret of facing every need imaginable, and still being content. How many people have everything the world has to offer but are still not satisfied? What would they give to know this secret? And what is the secret? It is found in the next verse that many have memorized:
I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)
So what is the secret Paul has learned? That Christ gives him the strength to be content in every situation. He has learned that God can satisfy him at the deepest level of his heart and soul no matter what is happening to his body and mind. Circumstances change, Christ does not. Winds and waves roar across the surface, but the rock of faith at the bottom is not moved. Paul is saying it doesn’t matter if I have millions of dollars, or if I live on the street, if I have good health, or a terminal disease, it is Jesus that satisfies me. He has forgiven me of my sin, He has promised me a home in heaven for eternity, and He is with me every day to give me His strength in every situation that comes my way. What more could I need?
Can you say that today? We may not know for sure how we will respond to the hard times until the day the storm comes to our door, or we get that dreaded diagnosis from the doctor. But until then I want to do all that I can do to build my life on the foundation of faith in Jesus and His word. I want to be completely satisfied in Jesus.
"Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
When you have five minutes, listen to this song that we sang last Sunday in worship. Ask yourself, is Jesus is enough for me? Am I satisfied with my relationship with Him?