This morning I woke up to a hazy red glow over the tops of the trees in my backyard. I didn’t think much of it until receiving a text from my dad with a link to a newspaper article. It explained that my region of the Pacific Northwest has been covered with not only smoke, but also ash, from wildfires in surrounding areas.
Which certainly explains the eerie orange glow outside, and the heavy smoke smell that burns all of our nostrils, and the stinging of our eyes.
And the fire is a hundred miles away!
Isn’t it strange that while there’s devastation from fires way up here in the Northwest, there’s just been a huge hurricane raging down in Texas? Two major catastrophes at almost the same time, on opposite sides of the country–one of fire, one of water
It set me to thinking about so-called “natural disasters.” You know, those disasters that just sort of happen and we’re all just helpless to stop it.
When I think of these disasters, these horrific disasters which are ravaging homes and lives and hearts, I have three thoughts.
My first thought is that I would never want to be “one of those people” who is so hungry for blog post content that they are willing to reduce very real sufferings to platitudes on a computer screen. That’s not my intention. But I also don’t want to miss this opportunity to make some important observations and offer some encouragement.
My second thought stemmed from the thought of how very helpless this wildfire and hurricane render us. If a fire wants to burn down your house, it’s going to burn down your house, and there’s very little you can do to stop it from doing so. Oh, you can try, for sure, but by the time it’s a huge forest fire, spanning miles and miles, across multiple states and countries, you’re probably not going to make much headway.
And think of a hurricane. You can’t stop a hurricane—you can only evacuate the area and then pick up the pieces. When a hurricane takes a town, a city, a state, by storm (quite literally), it leaves us as helpless observers and, sometimes, victims, of its fury. The utter power that is exhibited by a hurricane, the utter despair and destruction it brings… who can stop it?
As I think of the staggering power of something like a hurricane, or a wildfire, it makes me think of—are you ready for this?—God.
In Hebrews 12:28, it says, “For our God is a consuming fire.” And in the Psalms there are many references to God’s overwhelming power:
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.
The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare.
And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
That first part was certainly reminiscent of a hurricane, wasn’t it? It takes a pretty severe catastrophe to even come close to God’s power.
And that’s the thought I had: God is so utterly powerful that He is unstoppable. Much like a hurricane, He does as He pleases and we are helpless before Him.
But my third thought is the best one. And it begins with a story.
Thirteen men were in a boat, fishing. One of them, the Teacher of the others, had fallen asleep. Even as a violent windstorm came up, swamping the boat with water, the Teacher remained asleep. The other men cried out in fear until their Teacher woke up.
“Then Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and the sea. ‘Silence!’ He commanded. ‘Be still!’ And the wind died down, and it was perfectly calm.
“‘Why are you so afraid?’ He asked. ‘Do you still have no faith?’
“Overwhelmed with fear, they asked one another, ‘Who is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?'” (Mark 4:39-41)
We all know that story, and we all forget that story, over and over. Yes, we know that God has power greater than any natural disaster we can think up. But do we remember that He has control over the natural disasters that we are in the midst of?
In the following passage, we see that not only does God have the power to stop the storms, but it is He, in fact, who raises them up:
For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths; their soul melted away in their misery. They reeled and staggered like a drunken man, and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed (Psalm 107:25-29).
And, if we continue reading in Psalm 29, we find an amazingly powerful and comforting passage:
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever (Psalm 29:10).
The flood. That greatest “natural disaster” in the history of the world. The most catastrophic event to ever take place. And Who was sovereign over that? Who sent it, controlled it, and took it away?
The same Lord who is enthroned as King right now.
Essentially, this God who sets the boundaries of the ocean is totally sovereign in every other area.
In conclusion, please remember that even in the midst of these devastating events, our God is oh so powerful and oh so sovereign.
And… might I add… He loves you.