As I write this article this morning, my wife and I have “hunkered down” in our home here in Florida, awaiting the arrival of the impact of Hurricane Irma.
At the current time, the rain is beginning to be more or less constant, our power is still intact, and I decided that I should probably write this article and send it out as soon as possible.
One most of the local television channels, the local programming has been suspended and the local and national news and weather gurus are getting plenty of air time, explaining to us how the hurricane is moving and describing for us their projections of what it may mean for us in North Central Florida.
One of the common questions we have received through social media and otherwise is simply, “Why haven’t you left the area?”
Rick Scott, the Governor of Florida, has repeatedly over the past six or seven days encouraged everyone to “Get out of Florida!” And periodically, until just the last few hours, especially in the coastal areas, we received word that there was a “mandatory” evacuation for various areas of those communities.
But none of those have been directed toward those of us in this area.
For us, the challenge has been to fulfill the very purpose for which we have come to believe God put us in this area: To minister the grace of God to people who do not know Him and who have no idea who He is and what He is doing.
Therefore, we determined, early on, that we would do whatever was necessary to remain here and be here for our neighbors, for our friends, and for whomever the Lord brought across our paths.
God has led us here. He has put us here, and He has allowed us to have a significant impact on the people of our neighborhood, our church family, and others.
I once met an individual from Florida who proclaimed that she was more fearful of snow storms than she was of hurricanes. She proclaimed that every hurricane she had endured, all they did was board up the windows and hunker down and wait. Everything always worked out!
I’m afraid there are many here who believe as that woman believed – that a snow storm is to be feared more than a hurricane! They have taken the warnings about Irma with a grain of salt. But you know, I will admit that there are some fears associated with staying here.
But I am reminded of several key principles which have proven to guide my life each and every day:
(1) God is with us! In Isaiah 41:10, the Lord tells us to “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” The fact is that no matter how dire the situation gets here, He is with us! Hurricane Irma did not catch the Lord off guard. His call is for us to depend upon Him, and watch Him work in and through all of these situations!
(2) God knows what we are going through, and could change things if He wanted to. He is never blind-sided by the events of life. It does no matter if the event is a hurricane, or a relationship, or a financial issue. He knows all about it.
(3) God has our very best interests at heart. A question which comes to the core of the issue is simply, “If God knows what we are going through and could change things in our lives if He wanted to, why on earth would He not want to change it so we did not have to go through this hurricane?” The answer is also a simple one: Because He has our very best interests at heart! One of the most important qualities of God’s character is his love. God IS love. (1 John 4:8). This love for us has so obviously been demonstrated by the fact that He sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sin. While that seemed tragic, and unfathomable from our perspective, the fact that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day later is a powerful demonstration that he has our best interests at heart.
(4) God will not give us more than we can bear. You know, one of the most comforting verses in Scripture is 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” The beautiful aspect of that verse is that the word for “temptation” is a “kissing cousin” for the word which is translated “trial”. In other words, God will not give us any more of a trial than we can take, and with the trial will provide a way so that we can endure it.
While for some, in the face of Hurricane Irma, that escape has been to leave the area for points north and west, for us, I remain confident He will take care of us. And what is true for those of us in the path of Hurricane Irma is also true for every individual who honors Christ as their Lord and Savior. My time with the Lord this morning began with Isaiah 41:10. There the Lord says, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The only question is: Are you trusting Him in the face of the tragedies and trials of life?
I truly hope so!
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Times-Gazette and the News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Port William UMC.