Hurricane season has set more Floridians on edge this year. The oceans broil with hotter-than-average temps, increasing the risk of brewing another historic storm. A tropical system recently skirted our gulf and wreaked havoc upon the Mississippi basin instead. We empathize with our Louisiana neighbors as they wade through the aftermath. All the while, an unspoken threat from mother nature darkens the mood in our sunshine state.
So it begins.
In past seasons, we’ve all scoffed and insisted the danger would pass. Floridians have a reputation for laughing at the idea of early preparation. We tend to wait until a major storm claws at our shores before gathering supplies and party refreshments. But last year’s tropical disaster sent chills up the state’s spine and her cruel whistles still haunt our nightmares. So even in the quiet mid-summer months, I watch the forecast from the edge of my sofa cushion. Will this quiet prove an eerie calm before the storms ravage us? Should we prepare early this time?
We never know when or where major disasters will strike. Even if this season proves less stormy than we fear, other crises might wreak havoc upon us. Death, illness, spiritual attacks, and other troubles don’t arrive within a meteorologist’s charted cone of impact. Most of life’s storms hit with little or no warning. How on earth does one prepare for the unexpected?
Some Christians scoff at the notion of storm seasons, insisting our religion renders us immune to problems. If one believes, they argue, life remains a sunny answer to all his prayers. These believers laugh at the mention of preparation and judge those who suffer as lacking in faith disciplines. Until, of course, a disaster strikes them.
Once stricken, these sunshine-Christians could react with fear or shame. But their best response would involve a shift their theology to align better with scripture. Because God never promised us a trouble-free life. The Bible contains a myriad of stories detailing the struggles of our most prominent faith heroes.
Jesus warned us, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). He didn’t say we might have trouble, but our lives could otherwise remain sunny if the spiritual weather holds and we remain disciplined in our rule-following. Christ, who endured great suffering despite his perfect life, plainly told us that we will face problems. The storms might pass us by this season, but we can be sure a problem lurks somewhere on the horizon.
Yet, the forecast for Christian life includes more than one ray of hope. Just like a well-anchored structure or tree can better withstand a storm, faith offers us the means to prepare so we can survive and remain spiritually intact when disaster strikes. The Lord provides us with ways to root our souls before a crisis swamps the shores of our lives.
Let’s first acknowledge the rest of Jesus’ statement about trouble. Though the prior verses include even more ominous predictions, he didn’t leave his disciples hanging on threats of doom without adding an assurance of hope. The entire verse reads, “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.” This final passage in John 16 notes one root to anchor our souls against life’s storms. We can face trials with peace because we know Christ is with us in everything and carries us to overcome as he did. Not without pain, but surviving it and overcoming the devastation intended by the enemy.
The Holy Spirit serves as our strongest root, equipping us to face the brutal force of the world’s worst crises and retain our faith. The Holy Spirit can even pray for us when we’re unable to voice our needs in the winds of suffering. We must avail ourselves of the power at our disposal, however. In order to remain deeply anchored, we must connect at the most profound levels of our souls. We’re best connected to this amazing presence of God if we pray often and with all the sincere outpouring and receptiveness of our being.
Scripture, when studied and kept where we can easily access the truth (in memory or written in a handy reference), can help anchor us when crises hit. Keeping verses of encouragement and hope can hold us steady when all seems chaotic around us. The words come alive when we read them in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Prayer allows the Bible to breathe into our hearts with relevance and faith-sustaining power.
Individual prayer remains a staple of our spiritual preparation, but gathering others to join us in prayer and growth offers additional roots to keep us standing against the cruel winds of suffering. The Lord noted at the dawn of creation that he created us in his image and it was not good for man to be alone. The triune Lord (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is a relational being who designed us for relationship. We are not meant to face life alone, so it stand to reason that we will fare better against hardship when bolstered by the support of loving friends.
Instead of scoffing or shivering, let’s prepare our souls for the storms. We know the seasons of hardship will strike. Christ revealed the truth about impending disasters. But since our faith offers us anchors to steady us through life’s worst, we have reason to celebrate like Floridians in hurricane seasons of years past.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about facing trials with faith. What anchors will you set in your soul this week? Share your comments and insights with us.
P.S. If you haven’t seen the news yet, my new women’s nonfiction book, Beautiful Warrior: Finding Victory Over the Lies Formed Against You is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, New Hope Publishers, or by request at your favorite retailer. I’d also be very grateful for a few more reviews on retailer sites or Goodreads, if you can offer your support.