The Storms of Life

Hurricane Sandy has taken direct aim on the New Jersey coast and is expected to make landfall in the next few hours. According to the tracking information it will pass right over (or through?) those of us living in SE Pennsylvania sometime during the night. One of the interesting things about storms is that you can’t do anything about them. You can take precautions, you can be prepared, but you can’t stop them from coming. They’re like the game of hide-and-seek that we played as children, “ready or not here I come.” The reality is that storms like Sandy come whether we like it or not.

Thinking about Sandy I was reminded of some of the wonderful people in our church (and some of you) who are going through storms. Not the Sandy kind of storms, but the storms of life. Those times in life that tear at the soul and make a hurricane seem insignificant in comparison. They are hard and unlike Sandy they don’t always go away very quickly.

As I contemplated Sandy as a metaphor for the storms of life I had several thoughts. Forgive me if they don’t seem all that spiritual.

1. Storms are going to come so be ready.

The only thing that we can do as Sandy approaches is to be ready. I called several of our older members this morning just to check on them and to make sure that they were ready. Spiritually we need to be ready for the storms of life. Unfortunately we don’t have a spiritual hurricane center to tell us how hard the storm will be or when to expect it. That means we have to be ready all of the time. I think that was the Apostle Paul’s point in Ephesians 6 when he told us to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11f) and the Apostle Peter’s point when he told us to be on guard for the attacks of Satan (1 Peter 5:8). Those people who prepare well for Sandy will probably survive the storm better than those who don’t prepare. Christians who prepare well for life will survive their storms better than those who aren’t spiritually ready.

2. The cleanup after the storm is normally harder than the storm itself.

The cleanup is always the hardest part of any storm. Tree limbs have to be cleared away. Broken windows have to be repaired. Downed trees and the power lines they fall on have to be taken care of. The same is often true of the storms of life. Once we get through the storm there is still a lot of work to be done. Lives have to be mended. Relationships need to be restored. Families have to be put back together. Finances have to be replenished. All of it takes time. The strange thing about storms is that they can come, wreak havoc and leave in a matter of hours, but the cleanup goes on for days, sometimes weeks. In the case of our lives, sometimes years. Don’t think that the danger is over when the storm leaves. Your work has just begun.

3. Sometimes all you can do is to ride out the storm.

That doesn’t sound very spiritual but it’s true. Tonight we’ll ride out Sandy the best way we can. Sometimes as Christians that’s how we handle the storms of life. We just try to ride them out. Fortunately we can do more. We can cry out to God; we can find strength in the scriptures; we can find comfort from other Believers. But even with these spiritual advantages it still comes down to riding out the storm. The question is will we ride it out in a godly, righteous way or will we allow our flesh to dictate our thoughts and actions (Paul’s struggle in Romans 7:14f relates here)? How we answer that question will determine whether we learn from the storm or simply endure the storm.

4. Never forget that God sees your storm and He cares (not exactly a metaphor).

I know that it’s not always easy to understand God. Why does God let the storms come? Why doesn’t He intervene? Why doesn’t He answer our prayers? I don’t have all of the answers – I wish I did. But by faith I accept what the scriptures say about God. In the end I simply chose to believe:

God is love (1 John 4:8)

No trial has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tried beyond what you are able, but with the trial will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Cor 10:13).

 Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

I remember singing the hymn Stand by Me in our church as a child. It was written by Charles Tindley the son of slaves and a man who knew about the storms of life. It seems appropriate here, possibly as your prayer.

When the storms of life are raging,
Stand by me;
When the storms of life are raging                                                                             
Stand by me;                                                                                                              When the world is tossing me
Like a ship upon the sea
Thou Who rulest wind and water,
Stand by me.

In the midst of tribulation,
Stand by me;
In the midst of tribulation,
Stand by me;
When the hosts of hell assail,
And my strength begins to fail,
Thou Who never lost a battle,
Stand by me.

In the midst of faults and failures,
Stand by me;
In the midst of faults and failures,
Stand by me;
When I do the best I can,
And my friends misunderstand,
Thou Who knowest all about me,
Stand by me.

Stay in the Word

Pastor Steve

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