A line of thunderstorms crashed through our area two nights ago. Eighty-mile-an-hour winds ripped trees out of the ground, took down power lines and severely damaged several nearby homes. As I picked my way through the debris that covered our driveway, I kept thinking, “Lord — this could be broken glass and twisted metal, bits of storefront and stolen goods.”
Our yard will heal — but oh, my heart aches for the people whose stores were trashed and looted this week in riots protesting the death of George Floyd, as I ache over decades of injustice in our country. So many neighborhoods and lives laid waste, so many hard-earned businesses gone, so many people discriminated against. Every branch I pick up, I say a prayer for someone who is picking up the pieces of that tragedy, even as I pray for justice and peace.
Between COVID-19 … and the rioting … and now this storm, it’s like all creation, nature and humanity together, is crying out in anguish. Wave upon wave, the disasters roll in. The world is looking dark. “Armageddon,” one of my neighbors kept saying. “It’s like Armageddon. When will all this stop?”
We are not the first people to feel like the world is crashing down. I grew up hearing stories of how my grandparents faced war in Sumatra and Shanghai, and how their faith held them steady. As I wrote in Becoming Women of the Word: How to Answer God’s Call with Purpose and Joy:
During the Communist takeover of China in 1949, my mother’s parents were Christian missionaries in Shanghai. They had five young children and were expecting another. Mother remembers huddling with her family in the living room behind the blackout curtains, hearing bombs falling all around them. They listened daily to the radio reports as the Communist forces marched toward Shanghai. Then in the middle of the confusion and threats, a great typhoon hit, putting the attacks on hold. Neither the Communists nor the Nationalists could do anything for days.
Mom tells how her mother, hearing the wind howling in the streets and the rain lashing the windows, ran to the door and flung it open. Her face was radiant with joy. “This is My God’s storm!” she cried. Grandma Helen knew who was in control—of the storm, and of the war. Others might put their trust in one of the political parties, but she knew they were in the hands of the God who rules the universe and yet loves each one of us. She knew that God is good . . . all the time, whatever the circumstances.
This is my God’s storm!
I remember that story as I think of the storm that ripped through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. There was another last night, and they may continue through the weekend. This is my God’s storm! I can’t help thinking. I’m all for peaceful protest, but there were rumors of more riots planned. Were they scuttled by the winds and rain?
I may never know the answer to that, but I do know this: God is in control.
It’s easy to get caught up in fear and worry. When I feel my anxiety level rise, I turn to the Psalms. They have a beautiful way of identifying with my fears and drawing me in, then turning my heart toward God, giving me words to ask for help and then moving me to praise.
The Psalms teach us to pray
Psalm 13 is a good example. Look it up in your Bible or read it here.
In it, the psalmist feels like God has forgotten him. He cries out to the Lord in his pain and asks for help. Read it prayerfully, enter into it, and let it lift your heart at the end:
But I trust in your mercy.
Grant my heart joy in your salvation,
I will sing to the Lord,
for he has dealt bountifully with me!
“BUT I trust in your mercy,” the psalmist wrote. Say it with him. Regardless of all these troubles, no matter what might happen still, “I trust in your mercy, Lord.”
“I WILL sing to the Lord.” Make it your choice to sing and praise the Lord. “I will sing,” the psalm says. For God is in control of the storms of our lives, and he will carry us through.
“All shall be well,” as the Lord told Julian of Norwich, the Christian mystic. “All manner of thing shall be well,” he repeated. Not that nothing bad or painful will ever happen, but God is faithful and full of mercy. He has us in his hand, and he works all things for the good of those who love him. (See Romans 8:28)
God bless you and give you peace as you put your trust in him.
© 2020 Sarah Christmyer
The above excerpt from Becoming Women of the Word: How to Answer God’s Call with Purpose and Joy is reprinted with permission of Ave Maria Press, the publisher. Page 53.
You may also like:
- NO MATTER HOW BLACK THE PICTURE LOOKS: BUT GOD!
- THE POWER OF A PSALM: God’s love upholds me
- IT’S YOUR CHOICE TO REJOICE
I reflect in depth on Psalm 13 (and help you do the same) in Lord, Make Haste to Help me! Seven Psalms to Pray in Time of Need. This devotional prayer journal introduces seven Psalms that help us call on God and lift our hearts to a place of confidence in his loving care. Its unique weekly format requires just 10-15 minutes a day. Meditate with it and allow the Word of God to move your focus from your troubles to hope and praise! Available on Amazon.com.