This past week has hit hard. Every time I check Facebook or turn on the news, I seem to see more people suffering and hurting. I know I was going to begin a mini-series on prayer, and I still am, but I need to process a few things first.
A portion of our state was recently devastated by killer storms. I live in a small Southern state and in a small town. I didn’t personally know any one who lost a loved one or a home. However, the things about small towns and the South in general is that we all know someone who does. We know someone who goes to church with them, or works with them, or is related to them. We all have a connection.
I’ve read stories of a dad who died protecting his daughter, of parents who lost both of their children – at once, of a large family who is now smaller due to the horrific power of these storms. The pictures are surreal. It makes me want to thank God for our safety and cry for the losses of others all at once. It makes me wonder how God can restore these losses and bring any kind of goodness and order to such tragedies.
We received word last night of a dear family who lost their daughter after her heart transplant, of another friend of our family who has a loved one battling cancer, of another friend whose tumors are growing, and the list seems to go on and on and on…My heart literally feels like it is going to break sometimes. It gets so full that sometimes I don’t know if I can bear it.
Then…I remind myself that I don’t have to bear my burdens. God will carry them for me, but I have to let them go. He is waiting with arms outstretched to pick them up from my heart and hold them close to His. Fine, that’s all well and good for me, right? What about the others? What about the momma that won’t get to see her baby grow up? The momma that has to come home to that empty bed? The parents who have to decide what to do with all of the things in their home that no one will use anymore? What about the families who not only lost a loved one but lost their homes as well? What about them???
I don’t know. I do know this…somehow, some way, and at some time, they are going to have to make a choice. They are going to have to choose to either lean hard in to the heart of God or continue to walk in the darkness of hopelessness. Easy for me to say, right? I’ve never had to make that choice under such devastating loss. No, by the grace of God, I haven’t. But, one thing I have learned over the years is that we are all one phone call, one text, one breath away from hitting our knees in desperation. The story of your life can be rewritten in an instant.
As I prayed this morning, God reminded me yet again that He is faithful and good and sovereign. He also reminded me that He has told us in His word that we will have sorrows, trials, and tribulations. We don’t get to pick and choose, and God is not Santa Claus. Sometimes in this life horrible, tragic things happen to good people. If you think Satan isn’t delighted at this fact, you’re sorely mistaken. He becomes even more delighted when he can use these things to further destroy people. He relishes in making people angry, bitter, and resentful. He loves using these events to shake their faith in God.
It’s hard to NOT be shaken. You see these images and hear these stories, and you wonder, “Why?” A wise woman once told me that we will never know peace until we stop asking that question. Some things in life, we will never understand. And when we are face to face with Jesus one day, I don’t think we are going to care to know. But what about all of His promises? What about all of the prayers you know these families and many others were lifting up on their behalf? What about that???
I simply do not know. God knows. We have to make peace with that. We have to believe that these children and for some their parents are sitting at the feet of Jesus right now – immune to any harm, suffering, or pain. As for the ones left here on earth, we have to pray for God to grant them peace and comfort and strength. We have to pray that God will help them make the choice to choose Him over the darkness. We have to look for the good. It may not come today, or tomorrow, or even a year from now, but it will come. He says it will in Romans 8:28. You either believe it or you don’t.
As for me, I have to believe. Our world is broken; God is not. Our circumstances change; God does not. Satan means to harm us; God means to protect us. I pray you can all believe in my God of Hope today.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13, NIV
Father God, we come to you today broken and shaken. If we feel so hurt, how must You feel to see Your children suffer? Remind us, God, of Your unfailing love. Help us to stand firm in You and in Your word. Let us be beacons of light and hope in a world that is in desperate need of You. Let us never take our blessings for granted. Let us use what we have to serve others in Your name. Show us, Lord, how we can serve. Give us the words to speak, the hands to give, and the faith to stand firm in You. We love you, and we know You love us. Help us to never doubt Your goodness. Help us to remember to always be in prayer for those who are hurting. We ask these things in Jesus’ holy name, Amen.
At times like this, prayer may seem like it’s not enough. You may feel compelled to do more. Seek out a way you can physically help. Donate goods, donate time, donate money. Put yourself in a position to serve. Trust me, there are ample opportunities. Pray that God will put the right opportunity in your path. We are called to love our neighbors’ as ourselves. How can you show love to your neighbor today? Our world needs us to be beacons of hope. They need us to show them that there is still good, there is still love, there is still grace. How can you show that today?