What a week it has been—for us and for the rest of the nation, it seems, as well. Robbie had his oral surgery on Good Friday, and it could not have gone better, but then on Easter Sunday he developed apirational pneumonia and has been in the hospital ever since. Robbie has stayed fairly well over the last three years, so it had been quite a while since we had last admitted him. After the dozens of hospital stays he had experienced in the seven years before that, it was a welcome relief, but we knew it wouldn’t last forever.
So here we are back in the hospital, doing the round-the-clock shifts of caregiving that we always do in order to see that Robbie gets the special, loving care he needs. Bob’s doing the night shifts while I take the daytime, and I have to admit, we’re getting tired. But you do what you have to do, and truth be told, it is a labor of love that we are glad to do.
It is ironic that while we were in the hospital concerned with Robbie’s breathing and the fact that he could not get enough air, a large part of the country was getting too much air in the form of high winds and tornadoes. My heart goes out to those poor people in the south who have lost so much this week. Most of us can not even imagine what it would be like to wake up in the morning and before the next dawn find that we had lost everything. Many were fortunate to barely escape with their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Others were not so fortunate.
We cannot imagine what it would be like, and yet we can put ourselves in their places, for we know it is only by the grace of God that we have not been in such a situation. I have a daughter and her family in Alabama and other family in Tennessee, southern Illinois and other stricken areas. I was very concerned for them. The next morning after that terrible outbreak of tornadoes that killed over 300 people and leveled whole communities I decided to call Julie and check on them. The first time I tried to dial her number I got nothing—just dead air. I must admit, my heart was in my throat a bit as I tried to think what might be the problem. I decided to try again, and this time the call went through.
“Is your house still on Sunset Drive?” I asked with a feeble little laugh as she picked up the phone.
“It’s still here. Maybe missing a few shingles, but we’re okay.” She went on to tell me how the tornado sirens had gone off all day long, and how the five of them, plus the dog, had crowded into their tiny pantry over and over as tornadoes in the area went through. They all slept together in the living room in case anything happened during the night.
As I sat in the stillness of Robbie’s hospital room this week I had time to reflect on the storms we experience in our lives. Sometimes they are literal and disastrous like tornadoes or hurricanes, floods or earthquakes. Other times they are just as catastrophic but on a personal rather than community level—serious illness, loss of a loved one in one way or another, loss of a job or a home… The storms of our lives often come suddenly and seem to pull the rug right out from under us. We are shaken; sometimes we are fearful; sometimes we question why? We wonder what to do; we often feel helpless; if we are people of faith we turn to the Lord. Even those who do not normally pray, will often turn to God in their time of need.
I am reminded of the story of Jesus when he calmed the sea during a terrible storm on the Sea of Galilee. Mark 4:39 tells us that his fishermen-disciples woke him as he slept in their boat “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.” Our same Lord Who has the power to calm the wind and the sea has power and authority over the storms of our lives, as well.
There is a song that puts it like this:
Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered “peace be still.”
He can settle any sea
But it doesn’t mean He will.
Sometimes He holds us close
And lets the wind and waves go wild;
Sometimes He calms the storm
And other times He calms His child.
Those words speak to my heart. Though the storms may rage, He is in control and whether He chooses to calm the storm or not, He can bring peace and calm to my soul. In my worst “storms,” those words have brought me comfort.
The tornadoes this week reminded me of the story of Elijah. He was exhausted, distraught, alone and afraid. He had fled from Jezebel into the wilderness and hid under a juniper tree, telling God that he might as well kill him now. Instead, God sent an angel to minister to him and meet his immediate needs—rest, food and comfort. He sustained him for forty more days in the wilderness and then led him to a cave in the mountains. I Kings 19:11-12 gives an account of what happened next: And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
A great wind (a tornado, perhaps?), strong enough to break the rocks passed before the Lord; an earthquake occurred and then a fire—fearful, catastrophic events. Afterwards, however, came a still, small voice bringing a message of peace and hope. It was the voice of God Himself telling him that he was not alone. Seven thousand others in Israel stood with Elijah. The Lord sent him a helper, then, as well as hope. Elisha was to be his new helper and to minister to him.
When the storms of life come, He brings peace and calm when we turn to Him, whether He stills the storm, or simply calms our heart. He ministers to us and meets our needs; He gives us a message of hope; He brings helpers into our lives. I pray the people who have lost so much this last week will find the peace and hope that only Christ can give. The song ends with:
A heart of trust will always
Be a quiet, peaceful place.
Whatever your storm is this week, I pray your heart is at peace in Him.