February1 , 2023

    Getting Beyond the Storm

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    Hurricane Ian, the fifth strongest hurricane to hit the U.S., made landfall September 28 with sustained winds of 150 mph, almost category 5 status. Over a hundred people died, over one thousand were rescued, and survivors continue putting their lives back together. 

    One young lady interviewed immediately after Ian devastated Ft. Myers, said, with tears in her eyes, “I don’t even know where to begin.” She lost everything.

    Take it one day at a time, one decision at a time, relying on God’s strength day by day.

    Southwest Floridians were caught by surprise because early storm warnings charted Ian hitting the Tampa area 125 miles north. When they realized Ian was coming right toward them, it was too late to evacuate. 

    Our hearts and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones, property, pets, and businesses. Hurricane Ian’s wrath will be felt for a long time.

    What about our storms?

    Maybe we haven’t faced a catastrophic hurricane bringing widespread flooding, power outages, and ferocious winds, but how do we deal with the various storms we encounter in life?

    First, don’t be surprised when storms ambush your life. James 1:2 reads, “Consider it pure joy, my brethren, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (NLT). Not IF you face trials, but WHEN you face trials. No one is exempt from storms.

    Second, check your foundation. Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) with the illustration of two foundations. One man built his house on rock, and when the rains fell, the floods came and the winds beat on that house, the house stood firm and did not fall. 

    The second man built his house on sand. The rains fell, the flood waters rose, and the winds blew fiercely, and this house suffered a great fall. On which foundation are you building your life?

    Pastor Joel Gregory told about his phone ringing in the middle of the night years ago. The house of one of his young couples caught fire and burned to the ground. As Gregory made his way to the house, somebody told him it was too late. The husband rushed back into the dwelling to rescue their baby and both perished. The wife was in the hospital emergency room.

    What does a pastor say in such a crisis? When Gregory found her, she was sitting behind drawn curtains, soot covering her face. Before he could speak, she looked up and said, “Pastor, the Lord is the strength of my life.” Though she was devasted, she decided long before this tragedy struck to build her life on the right foundation.

    Third, press on in God’s strength. How do you put your life back together after such tribulation? Take it one day at a time, one decision at a time, relying on God’s strength day by day. Psalm 28:7 reads, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped” (NKJV).  

    Where do you turn when you don’t know where to turn? The old gospel song cries out, “Where Could I Go but to the Lord?” That’s because the “Lord is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). 

    Fourth, receive the peace that prayer brings. Paul wrote instead of being anxious, pray about everything, taking your requests directly to God, and God will grant you His incomprehensible peace (see Philippians 4:6, 7).

    Fifth, remember the presence of Jesus. My grandfather often said, “The same God who is with you in the sunshine is also with you in the storm.” 

    Pastor David Dykes had members named Don and Pat whose teenage daughter got into serious trouble, and the family was in crisis. Pat was a high-strung worrier. Dykes had just preached on Jesus calming the storm, and Pat wrote her pastor a note: “The only thing I remember from your sermon was ‘Jesus is in my boat, so I know I’ll get to the other side.’ I’m hanging on that promise.”

    That storm passed, but within a year, Don discovered he had Hodgkin’s disease. As he was dying, Pat clung to that truth, “Jesus is in my boat, so I know I’ll get to the other side.”

    Dykes was called to another church and again Pat wrote about her deep sorrow and grief, adding after signing her name, “Jesus is in my boat, and I know I’l