Today many residents in the state of Florida will begin to make their way back to homes they evacuated due to Hurricane Irma to assess the damages while many others are still dealing with the destruction left behind by Hurricane Harvey. These were both described as historic storms of epic proportion and as a result many lives will be forever impacted. In words of advice, newscasters, government officials and emergency responders all echoed similar warnings that went something like this-don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the winds have calmed and the torrential rains have ceased, that the storm is over or that it is safe to come out, because the worst may be yet to come in the way of flooding and storm surge. Although delivered as a message pertaining to a weather event, the profound warning is a life lesson that for many, hits close to home.
Many who survive these storms return to what they knew as their life only to find that everything they know has been lost. Some homes were washed away and others, though still standing, left inhabitable due to the effects of the wind, the rains and the storm surge that washed away what little the storms had left behind. Tough choices have to be made-do we try to rebuild where are former home once stood-do we move on to a different location we aren’t familiar with-do we just sit in the water and lament the tragic losses with little motivation to move on? The parrallels to life are too great to ignore.
In this world we will all face life-changing storms of epic proportions. We may be allowed to suffer the unexpected loss of loved ones or children, we may be facing life-altering diseases, we may be reeling from divorce, we may have lost much of our mobility through injuries resulting in paralysis or strokes that left part of our body unresponsive. Whatever storms we face there is almost certainly a storm surge that follows that is just as damaging or more so than the storm itself. A breast cancer survivor may be forced to deal with the scars of a life-saving mastectomy. Graduations and weddings are parrticularly painful for parents who lost children before they ever reached the age when they could experience these things. Divorcees are left wondering what went wrong when faced with the realization that their former lives and family structure are forever changed and they are left on the outside looking in.
It may be one of the hardest lessons to learn, but somehow, God speaks to us through the storm, if we are desperate enough to listen. In Job 38, after Job had lost everything, scripture says “…and God spoke to Job from the storm”. There may be little solace in knowing this, but sometimes it is all we have to hold on to when life as we know it changes drastically and permanently. Those who have survived Harvey and Irma never asked for their resolve to be tested by hurricanes-I’m quite certain that if you were to poll them they would say their lives were pretty good and these storms were unsolicited. We don’t get to pick and choose our battles. No one welcomes death-no one wants to face cancer or other crippling diseases-no one wants a failed relationship, but like the hurricane survivors, we must realistically weigh our options and determine the best path forward as opposed to sitting in the rubble of shattered lives and broken dreams.
It is only by the unlimited grace of God that we are compelled to move forward, one day at a time, mindful of the evidence of the storm’s aftermath but with a resolve to rise from the rubble strong, proven and better built for future climatic events. Storm victims will have many resource available to them from charities, goverment agencies, insurance policies and the likes. We may not have similar infrastructures available for our recovery, but having God, even at times when He can’ be seen or heard through the wind and the rain, is all the aid we could ever need and a source that is never depleted due to previous tolls and storms. It is a lesson that, after all these years, I still need to be remonded of daily in my own rebuilding process.
Our most sincere prayers will be with the victims of all the natural disasters of recent weeks, the hurricanes, the fires and the eathquakes. And we also pray for comfort and peace for those dealing with their own personal storms. May the God of the wind and rain who walks upon the storm surge hold you in His powerful and unshakable hands and bring you peace.