May 24, 2010
God Isn't Distant in Disaster
"Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
The city of Nashville, Tennessee, was declared a national disaster after floodwaters rose last week. Meteorologists are calling the disaster the 500-year flood, which caught thousands by surprise. At least 90% of those hit by the flood are without flood insurance making this blow painful on all accounts.
My family was spared. While we experienced some local flooding, not a drop of water entered our home. Others were not as fortunate. As the Cumberland River filled, it spilled into places with no discretion. The famous Opryland Hotel, the historical Grand Ole Opry House and Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony, were among countless buildings damaged by the flood. Many citizens lost their homes, their cars, and their lives. When tragedy strikes, it causes some to question God's loyalty to care for us.
In the Bible, God promises His care and protection. Why then does God seem distant when disaster strikes? Is He snoozing on the couch? Is He on a coffee break? Worse yet, perhaps God isn't the promise keeper we think He is. Or maybe we're not looking at the whole picture.
Yes, God promises to care for us. At the same time, He never promised we wouldn't face adversity. Christ warned, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV). You and I experience Christ's peace when we realize that peace isn't the absence of pressure. It's the presence of God in the midst of our chaos.
As the pressure of stress and worry weigh on us, it's easy to forget or ignore God's peace. Often times it's us who distance ourselves from God—not the other way around. But when you and I quiet ourselves and acknowledge God's presence, peace washes over our anxieties. The truth is God is always near in times of trouble and He cares deeply about our pain.
You and I do not have a God who doesn't understand our pain and emotions. He knows. According to dictionary.com the Hebrew word for "to know" is "yadaa." In Greek, it is "yada" which means "a deep emotional experience; a bonding between two people when one truly feels the emotions of the other." That's our God, friends! He may be working for a higher purpose that we can't understand right now, but He is NOT detached from our pain. Let this truth calm your fears and soothe your heart. God knows; He's been there and He's there still.
Often the trials we mourn are really gateways to the good things we long for, like a deeper relationship with God, greater patience, and a compassion for others. I see this natural disaster as a way for Nashville churches to reach our communities. Whatever God's plan is, we can rest assured it's a good one. While we wade through the process, we have His promised presence, provision, and understanding. Elisabeth Elliot states it this way, "It is God with whom we travel, and while He is the end of our journey, He is also at every stopping place."
Dear Lord, You are with me when I'm strong and when I'm weak. You never leave my side. Today and everyday help me to trust Your promises, experience Your presence, and feel Your love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
An Untroubled Heart: Finding Faith that is Stronger than My Fears by Micca Campbell
Visit Micca's blog
When Life and Beliefs Collide: How Knowing God Makes a Difference by Carolyn Custis James
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan
Sometimes God feels far away because we distance ourselves from Him, not the other way around. Draw near to God today. Tell Him your problems, fears, and concerns. Soon, you'll find yourself experiencing His presence and peace.
Why is it hard to trust God in times of trouble?
Does knowing God cares help calm your fears? If not, why?
Isaiah 43:2, "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." (NIV)
Deuteronomy 33:27, "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." (NIV)
© 2010 by Micca Campbell. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Monday, 24 May 2010.