in the storm
It happened so fast, with little warning. What started as a brushfire fueled by hurricane winds, ravaged everything in its path. In the horrifying aftermath, the historic town of Lahaina and surrounding communities are decimated. Our precious friends and church family on West Maui are experiencing tremendous loss and need our prayers and support as they walk through the difficult days ahead.
In times like this, when the storm is fierce and our faith is being tested, we know God is near. He is, as the Scripture says, an ever-present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1). Still, we find ourselves pressing in, asking what it means to walk by faith.
Today my Bible reading took me to the prophet Jeremiah. As Jeremiah poured out his lament, God’s answer is firm and certain. “If you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses?” (Jeremiah 12:5 MSG)
Reading this, I am stopped in my tracks and forced to reflect on how the great saints of old were compelled to rise above their particular moment in time to see things with God’s perspective. So often, they would write of hope, even as they were in the thick of adversity, destruction and suffering.
God’s strong word through Jeremiah was for His people to repent of the idols they loved and return to Him. Perilous days were ahead but they must look beyond this and contemplate the fulfillment of His promises that would surely come.
This is what it means to walk by faith.
God’s promises are not like the morning mist that dissolves in the heat of day. As surely as day follows night, His Word endures.
“This is what the Lord says: If you can break My covenant with the day and the night so that one does not follow the other, only then will My covenant with My servant David be broken…I would no more reject My people than I would change My laws that govern night and day, earth and sky” (Jeremiah 33:19, 25).
What we experience in life often looks like utter devastation. The sudden death of a loved one, a fearful diagnosis, loss of property or career. What we see appears as a lifeless tree stump, ravaged by flames and reduced to cinders.
Lord, help us to see with eyes of faith as Jeremiah did, when God promised that He Himself would cause “a righteous Branch” to sprout up. If God can do that—and He did—we can trust that His plans for us are for good and not evil, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Jeremiah lived in troubling times and his life was not easy. I’m sure it was difficult for him to watch God’s plan unfold, but he understood this would not be the end of the story.
God promised Jeremiah the day would come when the streets of Jerusalem would again be filled with voices of joy and gladness saying, “Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good and His steadfast love endures forever!” (Jeremiah 33:11).
How strong is our faith and trust when things are looking bad? Does the storm cloud our vision as we await the fulfillment of every single one of God’s good promises? I pray we run and do not grow weary. I want to be waiting, watching, and working by faith. It’s what we must do. The alternative to give in or give up is unimaginably worse.
I’m reminded of an article I read a while ago describing what comes after fires in the Southwest of our country. I learned that in much of the Rockies, a wildfire is a beneficent force that some trees, like Lodgepole Pines, need in order to germinate. They only release their seeds after a fire. Then comes the rain to pound the mesas and mountains. Storms rinse the land clean and eventually, when the sky becomes luminescent blue again, new growth begins. You may not see it right away, but up from the ashes in the months and years to come, baby piñons are growing. To the trained eye, they look like pure hope.
Lord, help us train our eyes to see past our present circumstances to a good and glorious future.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. – Psalm 30:5