It is Well with my Soul BYU Vocal Point

Friday, August 26, 2011

Where is God in the Path of Irene?

I apologize for the silence over the past few days. Honestly, blogging hasn't been large in my list of priorities as we are in the midst of battening down the hatches and buying some supplies for what is likely to be a long couple of days to come. We are right in the middle of the projected path of Hurricane Irene: in the midst of the "red zone" on the Weather Channel's map of her path and the hazardous areas expected to be hit by one of the worst storms in recent history.

Honestly, I don't know how to prepare for this event, other than to make sure I have my prescription medicines for the next week or two and some extra food, flashlights, batteries and water. The entire front of our house is made of glass...high, high, huge windows which would be impossible to board up...We are located in a wooded areas surrounded by trees-which are now growing in a sodden yard following really weeks of rain....just ready to topple I'm sure; any one of them within aim of our house, should they fall. So basically, I've decided that I've done all I can do to prepare--the rest is in God's hands.

Yes, I've prayed that the storm would change course and blow its nasty self right out to sea; but those prayers have left me with some disturbing thoughts: In the paths of Ike; Floyd, and Gloria, were there not people who prayed the same prayers? What makes me think God will here and respond to my prayer when for his own inimitable reasons, he chose to "ignore" the prayers of those folk? Do I believe that there were not any Christians who died; whose homes were not decimated? No. I'm sure Christians suffered right alongside their neighbors.

What about the promises of Psalm 91?

1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 3 He Himself will deliver you from the hunter's net, from the destructive plague. 4 He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, the arrow that flies by day, 6 the plague that stalks in darkness, or the pestilence that ravages at noon. 7 Though a thousand fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, the pestilence will not reach you. 8 You will only see it with your eyes and witness the punishment of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord-my refuge, the Most High-your dwelling place, 10 no harm will come to you; no plague will come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.
Psalm 91:1-11
Does that promise apply to me and mine; and not to them and theirs or to you and yours??

What about this one found in Isaiah 43:2:

I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and [when you pass] through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.

Does that mean that I and my house, my friends and my church will be unharmed by this impending disaster?

Honestly, I shrink from the thought of even entertaining these questions. They are hard questions; questions which have rocked the faith of those who have suffered.

A friend of mine yesterday questioned me about some of the difficult and violent verses in the Old Testament saying that, in spite of herself, she was entertaining some doubts about her faith because of them. What kind of a God would do these things? I had to answer her honestly and say: honestly I don't know or understand his reasons for doing them. But I can tell you - through all the promises of Scripture and through every experience of my life: God is a good God. He loves his children deeply. He also is a righteous , holy, and just God. (Note: I said "JUST" not "FAIR"- God does not have to cater to our definition of fairness) He cannot nor will not turn a blind eye to sin...in me or in my neighbor.

If any of you know anything about me, you know that my life has not been, nor is not, an easy one. I have been through one disaster after another, health wise. I've suffered family and marital discord. I deal with pain daily that would level many, many people. So I feel entirely qualified to make a statement like the one I just made.

"What???" you may be wondering. "How could a person who daily experiences suffering like most people will not ever know say that this qualifies them to believe in the goodness of God? Isn't that a bit paradoxical??"

Well, Maybe. But maybe not. I've experienced the depths. And I've found God to be present in every one of them. I've never suffered severe hunger. Never been homeless, despite being very close to it sometimes. But even if I had--and believe me, I personally know believers who have experienced or are now experiencing these things, -- I know for a fact that I would find God there in the midst of that too.

My suffering has taught me a thing or two about this God I serve. And they are best summed up in the words of the song: Blessings by Laura Story. ( Here is a partial quote; for the entire song, search this blog for "Laura Story" and it will take you to the post where I quote them in their entirety:)

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the achings of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?

God has bigger things in mind than my present level of comfort. He is thinking about getting me ready for my home to come in his Kingdom - A place, btw, which is NOT us wearing white gowns, floating on clouds, strumming harps. NO! It is a tangible, real place. A land much like Earth (after all why else would it be called the "NEW EARTH"?)...An Earth as Earth was originally meant to be- before sin brought evil, sickness, suffering and death to it. This will be a place of incredible beauty...a place where we will live and work, laugh and love...and have bodies which will be healthier and stronger than we can even imagine now. Bodies which do not get sick, suffer pain or death. Minds which do not suffer mental illness, rage or depression.

And this place, is really "where it's at." This world here, is a blip on the screen of eternity; but really too, it is the pin on which the pendulum swings. What we do here; how we live here will affect all the rest of our eternity. Thus, God is not too concerned about whether or not we stub our toes, or even whether we suffer mental illness or pain - for these brief seconds. What matters to Him, is that we learn, that He is Good. Trustworthy. Loving. That we learn Patience, Peace, Joy and how to Love. Because, see, we will be needing those qualities in the Kingdom coming.

He has reasons too, which go beyond my wildest understanding. His mind is so far above and beyond my puny one that I do not even dare to ask or tackle the questions which are his domain alone. And I believe that "why me? " is among those questions. Someday-maybe even on this earth--God will give us a peek at those answers. Maybe not til Heaven --and maybe not ever. But the "why me?" is NOT the question you should be asking friends. Because really, "why NOT you??" You are a speck amongst billions: the billions who are on this planet now and who have walked it and will walk it in it's history and future. WHY NOT YOU?
NO, that is not the important question to ask. The important question to ask is this: Who are you, God? Who are you really??

And I truly believe that, it is through difficulty and suffering that we really come face to face with this question. After all, when we are comfortable, isn't it so easy to ignore God? To never think of Him at all?
To begin to think that we have it all under control?

NO, When we suffer, to whom do we run? When we are standing in the path of a storm, to whom do we call? (NOT Ghostbusters!!) NO, We run to the God who is in Charge of this erratic, evil-filled mess of an earth. The God who let US run things OUR way for these thousands of years; so that we could see what a mess we've made of the whole business--before He steps in and shows us how it's really done!! And don't we take this method with training our own kids? Sometimes we have to let them try and fail before they are willing enough and humble enough to let us show them that WE really DO know better and we can SHOW them how to do it right!

I've learned that God sometimes has some really good--and really hard--lessons to teach me --wrapped in the wrappings of suffering and pain. And first and foremost is this: God is Good. He loves me and everything he does or allows is ultimately in my best interest because I am his child--(if you are not yet his child, you must first address that issue)--He is trustworthy at ALL times. And he is always there with an open ear and a heart that loves me incredibly. Deeply.
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