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It happened 10 years ago. Disaster struck. Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane. After briefly coming ashore in southern Florida as a Category 1 hurricane, Katrina gained strength before slamming into the Gulf Coast. It was the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States. In addition to bringing great devastation to the New Orleans area, this hurricane caused much damage along the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama, as well as other parts of Louisiana.
We will never forget. Many of us remember the bleak images, the lives lost, the aftermath of the storm that our nation faced. Droves of people sought refuge in nearby cities. Living in Houston, Texas, we had the opportunity to see first-hand some of the effects of this disaster and to lend support to so many who had been displaced from their homes and their lives. Thousands filled the city’s convention center and Houston Astrodome, seeking relief, looking for help. Row upon row of cots lined the buildings, the now temporary home of those who had lost literally everything.
Though this storm had some advance warning, most people never dreamed it would wreak such havoc. And while many of us may never experience a hurricane in this lifetime, most all of us will experience life storms.
Big storms can roll in fast, suddenly turning blue sky days dark with worry. It can happen with one brief conversation, a diagnosis, an accident, or life-altering occurrence. And we're left, thoughts swirling, wondering how we didn't even see it coming.
Hits us hard.
Leaves us flat.
Bad news crashes.
Pressure rises, anxiety rains down, heavy, strong, in an overwhelming torrent.
We can't stop the storms from happening. But we can know where to run...for cover.
7 Things to Remember:
- Storms will come.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Is. 43:2
It doesn't say "if," but "when." They will happen. It’s inevitable and unavoidable. But God still reminds us in His Word that He will be with us in the midst of it all. Daniel still faced the lions. Joseph was still thrown in prison. Job still lost all he held dear. The disciples still faced persecution. Being a believer doesn’t mean we will be kept from every hard circumstance, but that He will be with us in it all.
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- Heed the warnings.
"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Matt. 24:42
God reminds us in His Word to stay aware, to wake up to what surrounds us. Though it’s all too easy at times to ignore the warning, and continue on our own way. Thinking somehow we know better, or that we’ll be spared. Sometimes He provides us a way of escape from what’s ahead, we need His wisdom to know when to stay, or when to go.
- Be prepared.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Ephesians 5:15-17
Life is often predictable. Often storms come on without much warning. The best way to stay spiritually prepared is to stay in close relationship with God. Walking wisely. Every day we need Him, the fresh filling of His Spirit, time in His presence in praying and reading His Word. The better prepared we are “inside,” the better equipped we are to stay strong in Him, no matter what comes our way. Be ruthless with sin issues, keeping our hearts right with God and with one another. Stay in close fellowship with other believers, connected to a church and worship where we are growing, serving, being encouraged to stay strong.
- Know where to find refuge.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Ps. 46:2
When facing a storm, we instinctively know to find a safe place, to be protected from the elements. In all that we face, no matter what may fill our days, we have a place to run to. God is our Refuge, our constant Help, our Safety. He is the only One who can walk on water. He is the only One who still reigns over all. He is the only One who can speak to the storm and the wind obeys His voice, “Peace, be still.”
- The enemy comes in like a flood.
“…When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.” Is. 59:19
The enemy will try to wreak havoc in our lives. He loves disaster. He loves it when we struggle. His whole aim is to steal, kill, and destroy. Often it feels that when a few hard things start happening in life, all chaos breaks loose. It’s hard to get control. We can end up feeling abandoned and alone. Yet God’s Word reminds us that we never fight alone. He will not leave us to ourselves to pick up the broken pieces of hard times. God Himself will fight for us no matter what we face.
- God is over the flood.
"The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever. May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!" Ps. 29:10-11
Such a great reminder that God is still all powerful, over the floods, over the weather, and He's not pacing heaven's floors, but He "sits enthroned over the flood." He's still in control and He knows our way. He understands what concerns us. Our "flood" may not be literal standing water today, it may be the circumstances we find ourselves in that are wreaking havoc on our thoughts. We may feel overwhelmed, like we're drowning in all the struggles we're up against, like it's too much to bear. We may be knee deep in hurt, wading through the mess of it all.
Don't doubt for a minute that He's not there. He's over every trouble we face, He's with us in each trial. We do not face it alone. Ever. Two things God gives us in the midst of the "flood." He gives "strength to His people," and He blesses us with "peace."
- Life comes back.
“I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Gen. 9:13
Even in the face of huge loss and ravaging storms, hard times do not hold the final say over our lives. As believers, we are kept safe in the hands of our Creator, in this life, and the next. Winds can blow. Devastating loss may come. But God is a Redeemer. He is the only One who can take what seems to be utter destruction, and somehow turn it around for good. He did it for Job. He did it for Joseph. He did it for Noah. And He is the same God today. Still faithful to His promises and to His Word.
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also at http://twitter.com/debbmcdaniel.