Hi everyone. Rob here.
It was just after midnight. Sunday had moved into Monday when my bed started shaking. It was the first earthquake I had felt in Hamilton in nearly 30 years of living here. It was mild for us but powerful and destructive for those living near its epicenter in the upper South Island. The aftershocks continue and now a storm is sweeping the country making the clean up very difficult. Friends and family are okay but it’s a reminder of the fragility of our nation and of our hearts. It’s disorienting, on top of American elections that have made us draw a deep breath and wonder what’s next. Welcome to life!
As I look around the world I realise that I live in an unusual state most of the time. My country isn’t without issues but is relatively very stable and very peaceful. My city is orderly and, by New Zealand standards, free from natural threats such as storms, earthquakes and volcanoes. I take it for granted that I have food, shelter and warmth. My children receive a good education. Natural beauty is all around me, both in and out of the city I live in. While I am immensely grateful for all these things they can also act as a barrier to true dependence on God. It’s easy to get fooled into thinking ‘this is just how life is’ and forget that all life is fragile and dependent on the God who sustains it.
If you dig a little deeper you also realise that no matter how serene external circumstances may look, everyone has to deal with storms in their life. It’s not just that people die, jobs come to an end, economies hit recessions and your kids get bullied, but relationships are the fuel of our lives, and relationships are constantly changing. They die and they rise and this can take a toll on our hearts if our primary relationship, our relationship with God, isn’t strong and an anchor for our soul.
In Matthew 6:34 Jesus tells us that “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” In John 16:33 he says:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Trouble is for everyone but the victory of Christ is for everyone too. We really can know peace in the middle of a storm. The enemy will know his final defeat. The labour pains of this earth will give way to the birth of a new dawn. But Jesus isn’t just giving us hope for the future, he’s giving us hope for today.
If it’s God that we trust then we can’t be thrown off track by a new president, a natural disaster or even the loss of a loved one. God isn’t asking us to live our lives in serene detachment though. We gain trust in God by wrestling with God. It is as we come before him with our anger, our pain, our grief, our doubts and our fears that we express faith. As we bare all to him, become utterly vulnerable before him, he reveals himself as the one who takes care of us, even in the midst of a storm. It’s also not that we remain unconcerned about the effects of these storms. We are called to compassion, empathy and love. Of course we are concerned about anything that causes suffering, even new presidents! But to be truly compassionate and loving means to allow Gods heart of compassion and love to work through us. That can only happen when we trust our heart to his care.
When it comes to trusting God in the midst of hardship we are all a work in progress. It’s the hardest thing but trusting him in affluence seems to be even harder. He invites us to recognize that there is no time in our lives when we don’t need him. There’s no time in our lives when we have it under control. Our lives are his everyday so let’s give ourselves over to him everyday. In the storms of life we have an anchor for the soul.
Grace and peace everyone.