Texans wading through water that covers prized possessions. Floridians fleeing a hurricane that is wider than their state. Forecasts of apocalyptic wind and waves. Wildfires filling the west coast with smoke. An earthquake rocks Mexico. Buildings collapse. Tsunamis threaten.
How can this all be happening? How should we respond? And, most of all, where is God? Scripture has answers.
Jesus said, "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea" (Luke 21:25, NIV).
Natural disasters may surprise us, but they do not surprise God. Increasing frequency of natural calamities are like the birth pangs of pregnancy-indications of an impending delivery. Christians do not know when Christ will return, but we believe we will see "...the Son of Man coming in the cloud with great power and glory. When these things (natural disasters) begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:27-28, NIV).
This is the time to "stand up and lift up." Lift up prayers. Lift up hope. Lift up your hearts. God is above this storm. The storm is coming, but God is with us. Look ahead and chart a path to safety. Look around and see who you can help.
Turn your attention away from the crisis and, for a few minutes, celebrate God. It does you no good to obsess yourself with your trouble. The more you stare at it, the bigger it grows. Yet, the more you look to God, the quicker the problem is reduced to its proper size. This was the strategy of the psalmist:
I will lift up my eyes to the hills-
from whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1, NKJV)
Do you see the intentionality in those words? I will lift up my eyes.
Do not meditate on the mess. You gain nothing by setting your eyes on the calamities. You gain everything by setting your eyes on the Lord.
This was the lesson that Peter learned on the stormy Sea of Galilee. He was a fisherman. He knew what ten-foot waves could do to small boats. Maybe that is why he was the only one to volunteer to leave the craft.
When he saw Jesus on the water through the storm he cried out, "Lord if it is really you, then command me to come to you on the water."
Jesus said, "Come."
And Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus. But when Peter saw the wind and the waves, he became afraid and began to sink. He shouted, "Lord, save me!" (Matthew 14:28-30, NCV).
As long as Peter focused on the face of Christ, he did the impossible. Yet, when he shifted his gaze to the force of the storm, he sank like a stone. If you are sinking, it is because you are looking in the wrong direction.
Is God sovereign over the hurricane? Is he mightier than your problem? Does he have answers to your questions? According to the Bible, the answer is yes, yes, and yes!
"God...is the blessed controller of all things, the king over all kings and the master of all masters" (1 Timothy 6:15, Phillips).
If he sustains all and controls all, don't you think he has authority over this situation you face?
Pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in control. Face the uncertain future with conviction. Our good God in heaven is overseeing this stormy world. We may not be able to see his purpose or his plan, but the Lord of heaven is on his throne and in firm control of the universe and our lives.
The storm is coming, but God is with us. Look ahead and chart a path to safety. Look around and see who you can help. And look up to the God who loves you. He can be trusted with your future. And he can be trusted with your very life.
Max Lucado is a San Antonio pastor and best-selling author. His latest book is "Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World" (Thomas Nelson, September 2017). Visit his website at www.MaxLucado.com.
(Reprinted with permission)