Last week’s Hurricane Irene dealt quite a blow to the East Coast. Never having been through an evacuation before, I had no real plan when time called for preparation to leave my home. Part of me—part of human nature—was focused on my heightened sense of impending consequences for what I may not get done, what I may forget, what I may lose. I carried this uneasy sense about me as I shut off gas lines and water, stowed what I could in the garage, and carried furniture to other rooms.
But I also carried with me a stronger sense and awareness for the faith I have been asked, by God, to build up—a faith that has taken me the better part of 46 years to grow into. And I can share with you that it helped ease my troubled mind. And while I was unsure about what the cause and effect of the storm that ripped up the Atlantic seaboard might well be for me and my community, I was also reminded of what’s cautioned in God’s Word: to be concerned about what we are storing up here on this earth.
I’ll be the first to say I’ve been blessed in this life. I will also tell you that I also have been through rough times, too. And it is because of the rough times that I better understand what God intends for us. He promises to be there, with us, through the bad stuff. But He is forthright in telling us—through so many experiential stories in the Bible—that even his best servants won’t be spared from the bad stuff. It can come in so many forms.
There’s a particular bend in the road near my home, where the intersection is graced by two lovely fruit trees: pear and apple. Last week they were loaded with beautiful fruit, and I couldn’t help but think of God’s abundance and creativity in adorning them so fair.
After Irene departed, I drove by those trees. Still standing but much of the lovely fruit knocked to the ground, which is the feeling that I imagine so many people in the back areas and mountain locations of Vermont, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut—normally tranquil places—must be feeling.
But I noticed something else, too, that being the fruit that still clung to the branches now dappled in sunlight, and that had weathered the storm. It was a small bit of inspiration. It reminded me of some of my own storms that, by God’s grace, I have weathered. And it gave me the opportunity to say a prayer for those whose lives have been turned upside down by an uncontrollable force of nature—a prayer that included the acknowledgment that at some point in time, we will encounter the pain of being a “suffering servant, tossed about in life’s storms, and that we will need grace to see us through. A prayer of consolation for those hurting now. A prayer of hope that they, like the fruit on the trees, will hang on through the bad stuff.