I grew up in earthquake country.
When I moved to the Midwest, I had to get used to tornado country. Hearing sirens and hiding in a basement made me miss earthquake country. Earthquakes come without warning. They last a minute. You find something stable to stand near, and a few minutes later it’s over.
It turns out my California isn’t just earthquake country. It’s fire country. My hometown of Windsor is just 10 miles from Santa Rosa. You may have seen it on the news. Sonoma County and other areas are devastated. I didn’t see that coming. I thought an earthquake would destroy my mom’s china and we’d do that craft where you make mosaic stepping stones. I didn’t think I’d be asking a friend to ‘break in’ to my parents house to get their computer and a few sentimental items. I never thought our friends’ houses would burn down.
It’s like we get ready for one disaster and another takes you when you’re not looking. It’s like living a super healthy lifestyle but getting in a car accident. We never know what will happen. But it sure seems like a lot of bad stuff is happening. Houston, Florida, and the Caribbean. Are there more disasters than normal or is it just close to home this week? And more debatable is this: should we be surprised?
Jesus warned us centuries ago, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.” I love this verse!
I’ll never forget one time this promise really hit home. California is a big state, so in college I flew back and forth on school breaks – from southern to northern California. It took too long to drive. On one flight, the turbulence was so bad. Worse than ever. I remember thinking, I wish the pilot would come on and tell us that it’s going to be okay. Immediately after thinking this, I remembered John 16:33. Jesus’s words should mean more to me than a pilot’s reassurance. The Son of God already told me to take heart. I don’t need the pilot’s words. I was at peace.
While the fires rage in California, I have talked to friends who are at peace. I mean –they are on alert. They packed their car. They are ready to flee. Some have already left their homes – just before they burned down. It reminds me of my favorite study verse in college “The horse is made ready for battle, but victory rests in the Lord.” They’ve done what they can. They pray for God to bring victory. (And rain.)
The other verse that came to mind was the lyrical passage “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” That was always such a calming verse. Pastoral and melodic. You could almost feel the gentle breeze while you read the words. Now people are looking to the Sonoma hills and seeing smoke, looking for flames! Now the verse sounds more like “I look to the hills – AGH! FIRE!! WHERE IS HELP??! My help is still from God who made me and loves me.”
God’s Word applies to all parts of our lives. Through all disasters (and good days too!). He is relevant because He is Truth. As fire, flood, hurricanes and tornadoes threaten to take our stuff, we brace for it, mourn for our loss, realize it’s just stuff.
Don’t get me wrong – stuff is nice. We work hard for stuff. But it’s meant to be used for God’s glory, to help others. I was a sub in Sunday School this week, and the kids were learning stewardship: ‘taking care of what you have because it all belongs to God.’ What a wonderful lesson to teach from an early age!
As I learn to trust in God while I pray against the California fires, I remember Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in their famous fire story told in Daniel chapter 3. They declare that God is able to deliver them from the King’s wrath and fire. And then they declare just as bravely that even if God doesn’t deliver them, they still won’t compromise their faith. What trust! What courage!
In all things, I’m to trust in God. I’m to take heart. I’m to prepare the horse for battle. I’m to recognize that my help comes from the Creator. Jesus in Everything.
Verses for Encouragement:
Psalm 121:1-2, John 16:33, Daniel 3:1-30, Proverbs 21:31
What are some of your verses for encouragement? Please list them in the comments below!