Noelle Kirchner, M.Div., is a Presbyterian minister and mother of two boys. As they wrestle on the floor, she enjoys wrestling with her manuscripts. She writes for Huff Post Parents, the TODAY Show Parenting Team, and has been a repeat guest author at in(courage). You can find her on her blog, where she writes about faith and parenting, and on Twitter and Facebook.
This month marks the year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy. It marks the anniversary of our family's eleven days without power. My children were cold, my husband and I were on the verge of panic, and we saw a devastation around us that we did not think possible in New Jersey.
We experienced firsthand that storms impact several of our senses. We hear the noises, whether it's rain pelting our roofs or claps of thunder. We might feel the wind's vibrations. In addition, we can see the leaves spinning in circles and the trees bowing down in wave-like motions. And sometimes, when the power goes out, we see nothing.
When it storms now, our littler son gets especially scared. I wonder if some of his fear stems back to that big storm last year. He was only one, but no doubt he remembers. When the heavy rains and winds come, he starts crying and calling my name. As I enter his room, it's dark and sometimes the wood floor creaks as I approach him. There is a coldness in the nighttime air. I pick him up and we cuddle on the rocker; he becomes warm and calms to my breath. Oftentimes, I've looked at the weather radar and know what to expect. I reassure him that storm will pass quickly.
We may not shudder every time it rains as adults, but we still have scary storms. There are times in life when we face situations that appear insurmountable. Fear and anxiety set in as we realize that there are certain things we cannot control, and sometimes only God knows how long they will last. Just as my son cries for comfort, we need it too. We might need the embrace of a friend or spouse. And we surely need the reassurance of God in scripture.
I like to read Psalm 46 in those times. It begins, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." God is a refuge for us during our storms. The psalmist goes on to say, "Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult." It is no coincidence that the psalmist is describing a natural disaster. It is a storm, something wholly beyond his control, and it is precisely in that moment that he encourages us not to fear.
The mountains are crumbling. The waves are crashing. And what is the psalmist doing? Not running. Instead, the psalm ends with instructions to stand still! He describes the Lord, who's proclaiming, "Be still, and know that I am God!" The psalmist takes comfort in the fact that God is actively working in his life and is ultimately in control. Therefore, it is in humility and with praise that the psalmist approaches God as his refuge.
That humility and praise can be helpful for us too. Do we have the humility to reach out to others in the midst of our storms when we need help? Are we praising God for the times that he has been previously faithful when we're encountering uncharted waters? Most importantly, are we following God's command to be still, allowing ourselves a break from worrying? Scripture tells us that we are invited to rest in the sanctuary of God's providential care.
We worship a God who will not let one hair on our head be harmed that's contrary to his purpose (Luke 12:7). We worship a God who will never leave us alone. Further, a friend reminded me this week that everything has a beginning, middle, and an end according to Ecclesiastes (3:1). If you're going through a hard time right now, remember that your storm will only last for a season. Stand firm in faith, and God's love will always be victorious.
Hurricane Sandy did have an end. But the incredible thing was that God did not leave my family alone during those eleven days without power in its aftermath. We worship a God who brought us an invitation from another family to stay at their house that had power for almost eight days. That incredible hospitality was offered in the name of Christ. Be assured, God is waiting for you too - with life vests.
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