I live in Brevard County. Last week, Hurricane Matthew, a giant storm with a powerful category 4 eye, was aimed directly towards us here in east central Florida. Sadly, this same hurricane took the lives of 1,000
plus Haitians, destroyed some of my favorite beaches to the North of where I live, and it continues to flood the Carolinas. It has been quite a destructive storm.
Here is what is most amazing. The bullseye, Brevard county, for the most part,
experienced little more than some downed trees and many experienced lack of power for less than a week. And, while those things created a mess and inconvenience for us, we ALL breathed a huge sigh of relief and joyfully cleaned our yards,
realizing we had avoided MAJOR destruction!
A challenging question:
Many people in Brevard County prayed the storm might move away, and while it is right and appropriate to thank God for the averted disaster, many people in other areas prayed as well. How are we supposed to think about a storm that avoids one area and slams another?
- Were our prayers simply more effective than others? Unless we want to join the Pharisee club of self – righteousness, I think not!
- While we praise God for averting the storm, would we equally praise God had He brought the full impact of the storm into our county? I think we should!
- Was God limited in His power? Was He only able to move the storm somewhat and yet unable to avert it entirely by sending it into the Atlantic Ocean without incident? Of course not!
It is important that we do business with these questions and many more…
Such as: “God, give me what I want.” In this, we make God out not to be the God that He is, and the God that we trust and serve. No, we simply want a Genie of the lamp. Rub the lamp, and give me what I want. We may not even want a relationship with God; we possibly don’t want to trust Him fully, and perhaps we don’t even want to live for Him. Sadly, I submit we may want little more than…. what we want.
In this case, this would mean God is a God who we manipulate to get little more than what we want. And by the way, If this God does not deliver….. many become angry with Him. After all, why serve a God who cannot deliver my every whim.
Here is the equation:
I pray + God answers the way I want = I will praise Him
I do X + He does Y = I go on with my happy life
But…. for many….
If I do X + He does not do Y = I reject God or even blame God
It is here that I use God to get what I want from God. That is why He exists…. isn’t it? He exists to give me what I want, doesn’t He? This thinking or belief puts me at the center… it’s all about me… and, unknowingly, I have just made God no longer…. God. God becomes only a means to an end. If God gives me what I want, well then very good. If God does not give me what I want, then why would I serve Him?
Loving God No Matter What
I am one of those crazy Christians that believes that we can praise God when God answers our prayers AND when He does not! When the hurricane is diverted and when it comes crashing in… Praise Him! Let’s take it one step further. I am one of those believers in God that actually thinks that bad things can be a blessing.
John Newton, author of Amazing Grace was once a slave ship captain. Upon converting to Christ he then opposed the slave trade. Newton once said: “I have reason to praise (God) for my trials, for, most probably, I should have been ruined without them.”
Charles Spurgeon wrote: “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn suffered for 20 years in an unthinkable prison camp wrote: “Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.”
The apostle Paul wrote from prison: I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has served to advance the gospel.
So, yes, we pray that God would move the storm and yes we praise Him when He does. But, we also praise Him when He doesn’t and we seek to pray and to help those who were also praying and the storm none the less hit them hard.
Be reminded Christian, no greater suffering is known to man than on the cross when the Father brought the full blow of our sin on the Savior. Suffering then and suffering now has a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is made known to us and sometimes it is not. I submit to you, serve God in either case.
“So those who have faith in the God of the Bible can know that even if we don’t get the miracle we are praying for, we can relax and trust that God is nonetheless leading us toward something through whatever it is we are enduring.” Eric Metaxas
Let us praise God – the hurricane missed us and…. praise God if the eye rolled over your roof top.
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
(Job 1:20-21 ESV)