As the east coast of the United States waits out hurricane Irene, we are reminded that there are some things in life that cannot be prevented. There is nothing in this world that can turn aside a hurricane. We can't shoot missiles at it. We can't offer it peace talks. We can't bribe it or try to deflect its attention. We can't even build a wall to keep it out. No matter what we would try to use to turn it away, it will simply keep coming. There are some things in our life like that. Even though we can see it approaching there is nothing we can do to stop it or prevent it because it is out of our hands.
The people of the east coast have done or are doing everything they can to keep the damage to a minimum. They have watched this storm approaching for days. They have evacuated people out of the most vulnerable areas. They have boarded up or taped their windows. They have added sandbags where they could. They have shut down subways and laid in emergency supplies. They have all their emergency people standing by for after the storm. They are as ready as they can be. That's pretty well all we can do with some of our personal storms as well, be prepared. The only difference is in how we prepare.
King David was a man who faced more than his fair share of storms. Some were of his own creation and others were brought upon him. Regardless of their origin, once started there was nothing to be done but face them. David was a courageous man because he knew where his strength came from:
The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
These were not just words to David as they are to many of us. Look at his life and you will see that even in the most desperate times David continued to trust God. Even when he was the cause of the storm David knew the promises of God and he had confidence in his mercy and grace. Many of us cave like a house of cards with the least stiff breeze that blows against us. Fear takes over so we throw away our desire for God's will and allow "survival of the fittest" to take over. David would not allow fear to have its way with him:
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident. (Psalm 27:3)
We pray, and cry out to God that he would rescue us from the storm or make it all go away but some storms he would have us face because he is developing our character. However, that does not mean he leaves us exposed. He is our Father and he loves us enough that he gave us his best: Jesus. Surely this must mean that he will also give us all other good things if he has already given us his best. He provides us shelter in the storms and that shelter is himself:
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:5)
That shelter is his peace which goes beyond understanding. When all the world is losing its head over things we remain without fear because we have his peace and are confident of our Father's faithfulness. He does not hide us in some building because the tabernacle is himself. Another psalmist wrote:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
The real testing of our faith is not found in how loud we sing and shout on the sunny days. The test is how well we stand on the ground we have been given on the "hurricane" days. It is great to study the Word but if we cannot allow the Word to form us so that we act upon it in the worst of times, there is a problem in the relationship we have with Jesus. How we face these storms are of great importance because it affects our testimony, the testimony that says that we love and trust God. Stand my friends:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:10-11)
Just like the people of the east coast we cannot turn away the storms. With some of these storms the Lord instructs us to speak to it and the waters will be calm but others he simply says "my grace is sufficient" and he strengthens us. But just like the people of the east coast we can prepare ourselves as we see the storm approach. We are told not to neglect the relationship we have with our Shelter:
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
Standing in the storm is vital; it is of great importance because it is a testimony to the greatness of our God. Our preparedness is not a difficult thing although many in the storm have neglected their armour and suffer for it:
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:14-18)
Fellow sojourner in Christ, this is how we prepare ourselves to face every storm that tries to prevail over our faith. Singing to praise the Lord and to encourage our heart is a good thing but do it knowing that you have prepared yourself to stand. He tells us to get dressed for the battle. The battle belongs to him but we must prepare ourselves to stand. The most important promise in all of this that we must hold on to is this:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:38-39)
That should be all that matters to us in all of life, all that we need to know in order to want to stand. My friends, stay safe, stay strong, remain on alert and be prepared to stand your ground. To God be the glory!