As I'm sure that pretty much everyone knows, the Southern part of the nation was hit by Hurricane Isaac last week. I don't know about you, but it seemed like to me that the news media was almost hoping that it would upgrade to hurricane status to justify all there forecasts and preparations. Whatever the category is finally reached really doesn't matter because it still caused a lot of damage in some areas, mainly destruction by flooding.
Who knows when the next one will hit but, the "Good Lord willing," I'm sure that there will be one coming along. I get sort of tickled here in Southern California when it comes to storms. If we get a couple days of light rain our weather people our referring to it as the "mother of all storms." Obviously they've never spent any time in the mid-West or South or they'd know what a real storm is all about.
The general idea of my editorial today is, just like the physical storms have been plaguing the world since the flood of Noah, we've been plagued too by the "storms of life." Granted, lots of times, due to our own actions, we bring on our "storms" but, a lot of them are simply those that are common to all.
I see these common type "life-storms" as being like the ones depicted in the words of the old hymn mentioned at the onset. Our "life-storms" can be like the physical ones in that they are sometimes not so violent and yet, sometimes they rage. And here's a truism - everyone experiences them - both kinds.
When any of the "storms" come into our lives, what I see as being important is what sort of relief, what shelter do we have to help us survive them. As I mentioned earlier, some we can avoid altogether by living a Christian lifestyle, but we know and understand that there are some that are simply unavoidable in life.
I feel sorrow for the unbeliever at these times and I'll explain why. Have you ever been in a major storm such as a hurricane or typhoon? Perhaps even a tornado? Oh, you can witness the aftermath of one. You can see the devastation brought the area by the storm, but have you ever actually been in one?
If you have you'll understand what I'm about to say. If you haven't, words cannot express that experience. The phrase "awesome power" is not an adequate descriptor for that moment. There's a realization that comes to you of just how small and insignificant you really are. I've been there and done that and never did I not think about God at the time. About the awesome power of the storm and the realization that God's power is greater. The He controls those awesome forces of nature.
Every now and then, after a major storm has struck, you'll hear someone ask, "Why did God let this destruction come upon a lot of good people? Yeah, there's a lot of reprobates who lived there, but there's a lot of good people too. So why?"
In order to answer that I'm going to have to sort of back up and do a real quick Biblical history lesson, but I'll start my answer off with the same answer given by Peter in Acts 10:34. "Of a truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." This is a fundamental truth when it comes to the occurrence of things common to all.
But, let's go back a ways. Actually all the way back to the beginning. You'll find that it wasn't always this way for in the beginning God placed his most blessed creature, man, in the most beautiful and sheltered place the earth has ever known. Remember when I said that we can bring on "storms" by our own actions? Well, that's exactly what happened back then. Man sinned, violated the one rule he was given by God and since has been subject to, not only the "thorns and thistles" of life, but also the "storms." (Gen. 3:18)
Another good scriptural reference to look at about our question is the words of Jesus that we find in Matt. 5:45 where He says that God "makes HIS sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." Note the emphasis on to whom the sun and the rain belong.
Yes, we occupy a world populated by both those who do evil and those who do good. A world wherein both believers and unbelievers reside next to each other. It's because of this, and what was said above, that we all have to endure the natural and common occurrences of life.
Since the "rain" falls on the "just and the unjust" the question arises, "What good does it do to be 'just' if you're going to get as wet as everyone else?" Well, here's how I see it. It's in how we endure these common "storms" that makes the difference. What differentiates the "believers" from the "unbelievers." And this is what brings me back to why I said that I feel sorry for the unbeliever.
The "believer" has the knowledge in his "heart", through faith in God's Word and promises, that provides him a lot of peace when passing through a particular storm. Like the words of another hymn says: "There is peace in the midst of the storm." And it's because the "believer" knows that there is a "shelter" from all storms that's prepared for them in eternity. So, whatever "storms" come our way during our stay here on earth, this is the only place where storms will be found. There will be no "storms" in heaven. (Rev. 21:4)
Plus, while here enduring our "storms" we have the avenue of prayer to give us peace and strength to weather it. To get us through it. I'll close with a little story told by my good friend, Bro. Russ Lawson.
It seems that, as a storm raged, the captain of a ship realized that it was sinking fast. He called out to his crew, "Anyone here know how to pray?" One man stepped forward, "Aye, Captain, I know how to pray." "Good," said the captain, "you pray while the rest of us put on our life jackets - we're one short."
Christians have a life jacket. Our life jacket has a name - Jesus Christ. The "unbeliever" does not possess this life jacket and when the "storm of life is raging" and the proverbial "ship is going down" his prayers will do him no good. That's why I have sorrow for the "unbeliever." Read Luke 6:46 with me in closing.
"And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say."