After Hurricane Matthew pummeled the Atlantic coast near my home recently, I moved slowly through the stillness, surveying the damage. Debris streaked the yard and patio, tree limbs scattered over soft, muddy ground. And across the property, a glint of silver tin against weathered red walls showcased damage to the barn roof.
All a reminder of impatient winds howling through the darkness as the storm moved north, leaving beach dwellers and those of us further inland without power.
In the absence of electricity, I recalled sounds of nature colliding with the silence of modern convenience the night before. No hum of an air conditioner to filter the rhythm of torrential rain. No whir of a ceiling fan or buzz of technology covering unfamiliar scrapes and bumps in the blustery night air while persistent wind and water took a toll on part of the Eastern Seaboard.
That morning, beneath low, gray clouds, I pondered the parallel between whirlwinds of nature and those of the heart.
With subtle shifts in pressure and temperature, the storms themselves come and go, but it is often the devastation left in their wake that can cause my faith to shake.
And maybe yours too.
Do you ever consider what compels us to take the next step when the aftermath of a storm hovers on the horizon?
In our small community, the dome of a nearby silo was ripped away with unpredictable gusts, carried by the wind and changing the landscape of a rural neighborhood I have loved for many years.
Though no longer functional, the broken silo particularly saddened me because it has served as a landmark for many sunset walks and the backdrop of countless photographs, blending palm tree fronds and evening sky. The special setting portrays a lifestyle I hold dear, the rare combination of country living and coastal charm.
In reality, the loss of something material pales in comparison to the storms that carve deep, hollow places in our souls. But to me, it illustrates the events of life that leave a trail of tears or lingering emotional devastation, those that change the landscape of life as we know it.
Winds of grief have an unsettling way about them, tilting our world in the face of loss, heartache or unpleasant news. We pick through the rubble, wondering if things will ever be the same again.
And maybe they won’t.
But as I ponder what it takes to move forward when the foundation of life is shaken, one word rises above all others, the essential ingredient you and I need in the aftermath of life’s storms. Not a sprinkle of fairy dust floating over the ragged edges of devastation, but a hard fought choice.
It is HOPE.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Psalms 46:1-3
Hope is the life giving force that propels us beyond what we see in the moment by absorbing the reality of God’s presence in slow, deliberate measures.
Finding light on a troubled horizon will require us to cling to the truth of Psalms 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God.
The most important paradigm shift of all is to know that God is. And because He is, there is always hope.
Hope to rebuild broken dreams or a broken life. Hope to believe a new landscape will rise when our current view is battered and torn, and that His light will bring forth beauty we can’t see right now.
Many years ago, during one of my own hard times, a friend gave me a framed quote with these words:
“Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier.”
Even now, displayed on a shelf in my bedroom, it serves as a gentle reminder. The process of recovery is often slow, but with just a small seed of faith, new beginnings are possible.
Even when life is hard, what do you say we hold tight to hope? Let’s believe that God is and seek Him for answers and strength to move forward, step by step.
In His time, the dawn of a new day will come. Because He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
Though winds roar and seas rage, leaving destruction in their wake, the light of His presence endures ~ with power to pierce the shadows and cause the sun to shine again.