WEEKLY CHRISTIAN BIBLE STUDY AND DEVOTIONAL FROM GOD’S WORD, FOR THE NEWLY SAVED AND MORE SEASONED BELIEVER, AND FOR OTHERS SEEKING TRUTH. OUR PRAYER IS TO ENCOURAGE YOU AND STRENGTHEN YOUR FAITH IN GOD’S INFINITE MERCY, LOVE AND GRACE, AND IN THE GOSPEL OF THE DEATH, BURIAL AND RESURRECTION OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST, THAT ALL WHO SEEK HIM HAVE ETERNAL, ABUNDANT LIFE.
Saturday, November 14, 2020
Photo by Presearch 2011
Hurricane Eta, with its zigzag path and constantly changing projected path, reminds me of the situation with Hurricane Irma 3 years ago. Although storm Eta itself might not have been as fierce, it came in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, aggravating the tension and risk emotionally as well as physically.
Then, as now, we on the west coast of Florida thought we were safe, only to find our homes directly at risk. Then, as now, God mercifully answered our prayers, sparing our family, loved ones and church family from injury and property damage. I therefore thought it appropriate, particularly as we enter the Thanksgiving season, to repost this blog from 2017, as a reminder of God's mercy, love, faithfulness and grace. Continued prayers for all affected by Eta and other storms this season, and for relief from the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How blessed we are as Christians to come boldly before Christ’s
throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)!
There we find His mercy and grace that we so desperately need! He hears our
prayer requests 24/7 (Psalm 143:1),
provided our heart is right with Him and we are praying in His will (Luke 22:42), rather than to
satisfy our foolish lusts (James 4:2-3).
Praise God for prayer warriors who intercede for us in
prayer, knowing that where two or more are gathered in His Name, He is in our
midst, and that if we agree in prayer, the Father will accomplish it for us (Matthew 18:19-20).
The events of this past week have been a blessed reminder
that God answers our prayers, and that He gives Christians the unique privilege
of being part of His answer to prayer. He knows what we need before we even ask
Him (Matthew 6:8). He is
working behind the scenes to bring all things together for good for those who
love Him, for their ultimate well-being and His glory to accomplish His purpose
for each of our lives (Romans 8:28).
As my husband Richard and I flew from Tampa, FL to Dallas,
TX to dance in five shows in a major theatre production as part of our dance ministry, the airport was already packed at 5AM and there was no empty seat on
our flight. Many in Florida left the state because of concerns regarding
Hurricane Irma. When we took off, the projected path was up the east coast of
Florida, so we had not prepared extensively as we live on the west coast.
But by the time we landed, the storm path had shifted and
was headed straight for Tampa! On its way, it was forecast to pass through a
coastal city where Richard’s sister lives on the water, and our son’s home was
projected to be at least six feet under water if there were any storm surge.
While praying fervently, we wondered if we should return home to help our family and
secure our property. But then we realized that God had long before planned and
arranged for us to be exactly where we were, not only safe from the storm, but
going obediently through the door He had opened to bless others through our
To abandon His plan would be to give the victory to Satan,
when we know that the battle is the Lord’s (1
Samuel 17:47; 2 Chronicles 20:15) and that we have sure victory
in God’s Son Jesus Christ (1
Our hearts sank as we discussed constantly changing evacuation
plans with our son and Richard’s sister. We invited both their families (and
pets!) to stay at our house, further inland and at a higher elevation from
their homes, but the congested traffic and unavailability of gas prevented
Richard’s sister from doing that. Our son’s wife was traveling out of state,
but our son agreed to weather the storm at our house with his dog and cat.
Although our minds and bodies were very active with
constant rehearsing in Dallas, our hearts were with our family and home. Yet
what a blessing as Christians in our midst bathed us in prayer, both in our
presence and also by enlisting their churches, choirs, and prayer chains to
pray for us.
They were bearing our burden (Galatians 6:2) and helping us to lift up our arms in prayer
when we felt we could not do it alone (Exodus
17:12). Despite the constantly worsening weather reports, we were able
to experience the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and joy in His salvation (Psalm 21:1; 35:9; 51:12;
Isaiah 61:10; Habakkuk 3:18).
One of our dear friends in Dallas told us that he prayed
specifically that our son would not have to spend the night of the storm alone,
as he knew from personal experience how frightening that can be. Later that
afternoon, our son texted us that he had gone to a friend’s house that was
newer and more storm-resistant than ours, and that he and the pets would stay
there with his friend’s family. Praise God for this very specific answer to
prayer, and for our friend’s discernment to ask for this in faith!
Hurricane Irma was still headed directly for Tampa with
winds in excess of 100 mph and predicted storm surge of 10-12 feet all along
the west coast of Florida. We feared the worst but knew that God is in control,
that His ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9), and that He would not allow any harm to befall
us unless it was part of His perfect plan (Job
At what seemed to be the last minute, but was in fact in God’s
perfect timing, the storm veered off slightly to the east, making a small
circular detour around the heavily populated city of Tampa. In general, the
winds and storm surge were far less than had been predicted.
What a relief to learn that our son, his friends, and
Richard’s sister and her family were all safe; that our home and our son’s home
experienced no harm other than a few tree branches down; that our church and
all those it sheltered were unharmed; and that our business had no flooding or
even loss of power!
Our hearts and prayers are with those who did not fare as
well with Harvey and Irma, and especially with those in Puerto Rico and still in
the path of Maria. We can’t pretend to understand why God allows such devastation, but we can trust Him to provide, protect and restore.
Whatever befalls us here on earth, we who have trusted in
the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) have the blessed hope
(Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3),
meaning sure anticipation, of eternal joy with Him and our loved ones in Him!
Meanwhile, He has appointed each of His children to be His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20), His hands,
feet and voice in this troubled world (Romans
10:15; Luke 12:11-12).
We were humbled and blessed by our brothers and sisters in
Christ ministering to us through prayer and encouragement in this trial. We
felt that we were in the midst of a loving family, even though we had met most
of them only twice before, for a few short days a year apart. Yet their
ministry continued in surprising ways, as did God using them to answer prayer!
May we learn from the example of our fellow prayer warriors
to lift one another up in prayer, bear their burdens (Galatians 6:2), and so fulfill the law of Christ!