September 27, 2018
Florence has come and moved through the area. The results of the storm continue on and will for months and years. Our heart aches for those who experienced the loss of loved ones. Our hearts, hands and feet are engaged to help rebuild and lift up those in need.
The oldest book of the Bible presents the life of Job. Job’s friends sat with him quietly for seven days after his stunning loss, Job 2:11-13. This action of just being present without speaking may be the most important thing to do first in the most stunning situations. After a time, when shock subsides, this question looms, “How do I go forward?”
How do I survive a storm?
Beyond the obvious, storms leave people stunned, knocked down, overwhelmed and at some point angry inside. How does one cope at such a time while trying to determine the next step? In those times “life” knocks me down and leaves me stunned, I have learned to anchor myself in two important exercises. First, I affirm out loud in prayer that there is a God in heaven who filters everything through His sovereign hand. Second, I begin to analyze and seek out aspects of the trauma for which I can give thanks. As hard as it is, I have never faced a situation in which thanksgiving in some way could not be expressed.
Years ago, I found one of the best short explanations of this in a devotional study entitled, Discovering God’s Will, by Warren and Ruth Myers. They stated, “God’s sovereignty means… that by the time anything reaches me it most assuredly has God’s permission to do so.”
I believe the Apostle Paul understood God’s sovereignty very well. He, guided by God the Spirit, wrote one of the most insightful health-giving statements. “Be thankful in the midst of all circumstances for this is the will of God concerning you who are in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 “Thankful in”, and not “thankful for”, speaks to a Sovereign God who is in charge of everything. Whatever touches His people good or bad is filtered through His sovereign hands.
Why is thanksgiving commanded by the Lord?
Thankfulness is a powerful spiritual weapon destroying the work of covetousness and discontentment in us. The hymn writer stated it well, “When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed, when you are discouraged thinking all is lost, count your many blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.” Yes, the Lord is to be thanked in all the situations and circumstances of our lives. Allowing our meditation to be about what I can thank God for, rather than about an analytical assessment of status alone, will make a huge difference in recovery.
Who deserves thanksgiving?
In the midst of the devastation and loss, our eyes rise up to give much thanksgiving to the Lord. Indeed, thank you Lord for your answers to prayer. We prayed for our leaders in the approaching Florence storm and asked God for wisdom and mercy. Thank you Lord for answering prayer. We give thanks to our President, Governor, Lt. Governor and State leaders for their decisions and oversight to seek to save lives and meet needs. Thank you First Responders for your protection, rescue, recovery and aid.
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8
As our hearts give thanks to God, our thankfulness for God’s mercy in our lives is recognized. This recognition moves us to others and to put others before ourselves. It is this healthy outlook, “others before me,” that God values. Thank you to all volunteers, public servants, pastors, mission teams, individuals and businesses assisting and helping others even as I write.
The greatest destructive consequence of any life storm hinges upon our response to it. This is where belief matters and minimizes the destructive work of our enemy who wants to debilitate and destroy.
How long does healing take?
The grabbing hold of God’s sovereignty and giving thanks heals and protects our inner being. It will pull us through the storm but it will take time. The severity of shock and loss will determine how long. Job affirmed this action early, Job 1:20-22, but he grappled with the reality of the affirmed truth throughout the entire book. Be patient and sensitive to others who struggle. Listen, love and be tolerant of their expression of pain. Pray for their healing and be present, giving advice only when asked.
Pray with me for the healing and restorative work in the souls of those who have suffered devastating loss. Pray for God to work His good in their lives and for the enemies work to be stopped by the rebuke of the Lord.
As you pray, I challenge you, if you are able, to join a team assisting with recovery and give to credible assistance agencies (please be careful of scams).
Things can be rebuilt and that work is good, but hearts are healed not so easily. Let us be about the business of working to bless others!
For His Glory!
NC Ministry September Update
* Completed Kingdom Man study in Men’s Open Bible Study - staff men's lives changed
* Women's Staff Bible Study continues at Legislative Building
* God opened a door to present a personal, clear presentation of the gospel to an unsaved NC Representative
* Legislative Prayer Gathering – Wednesday, October 10th at 11 AM in the Legislative Chapel
* Pre-Election Prayer Walk, Sunday, November 4th from 2 - 4 PM at the Capitol Building in Raleigh