Today, the COVID-19 pandemic is foremost on everyone’s mind, but tragedy and trials come in many forms, including literal storms, like the one that hit Tennessee a few months ago. Never forget that we have the same Savior who calmed the seas two millennia ago:
“And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mark 4:37-40 NASB)
The Peace of His Presence
Many people in Tennessee experienced unimaginable and sudden loss in the recent tornadoes. But just as we witnessed incredible loss, we are witnesses to their unshakeable faith, which is a testimony to us all. Showing up to church without a building the Sunday after the storms, Pastor John Nichols declared:
“Peace is not found in the absence of tragedy. Peace is found in the presence of the Lord.”
Big Cee O’Neal felt that peace for himself when in “helping a friend clean up storm damage…he noticed a large book caught in a tree. It was the Holy Bible.”
Still another family found the grace of God in the barking of a faithful friend:
“He would not stop barking…It turned out Doc was trying to warn the Crockett family about the approaching storm. And had the dog been quiet – the pastor would never have heard the storm alert warning buzzing on his phone…The tornado must have picked up the entire house [and] dropped it in the yard with us buried underneath it. The only thing that saved the family from being crushed was a two-by-four that fell across the washer and dryer. The Crockett family survived – with just a few scrapes and cuts and bruises. But their beloved dog perished in the storm.”
Still others will find “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7) as God walks with them “through the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4). Abraham Lincoln understood this truth, writing in a letter of condolence:
“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it… The memory of your dear father, instead of an agony, will yet be a sad sweet feeling in your heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known before.”
Finding Peace for Today
For those who have lost family, friends, jobs, homes, or have experienced other tragedies in the recent months, let us commit to pray that the nearness of God will be felt and believed as He draws “near to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18).
For all of us currently wrestling with the impacts of the pandemic, let us never forget that God was not surprised by this virus. The words of Jesus to his disciples are still true today: “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Do not be overcome with fear, but find peace in his presence!