- I don’t tweet much, but I did send this out a few hours ago: “Dear Florida – May the Creator, the God of peace, love, and compassion, fill you with the life and strength you need in this – and every – hour.”
For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. – Jesus, Matthew 5:45
Happy Sunday, friends!
I must admit I have mixed emotions this morning. I’m looking forward to church, getting together for worship, singing praise, listening to Rebekah’s message, and being with the wonderful disciples at WFPC…
But at the same time my heart is heavy, and I am worried about Florida and all the people we love there. The devastating impact of Hurricane Irma is now aimed directly at the west coast, with Tampa squarely in the cross hairs.
Having lived in Florida 35 years, I can confidently tell all those second-guessers (armchair quarterbacks who all happen to live somewhere else) there is no clear cut “correct” decision when it comes to evacuation. It comes down to listening closely to emergency management, and then making the best common-sense decision you can at the time – with the understanding that a trajectory shift of just a couple of degrees can instantly change the point of impact by 100 miles or more.
After that? Well, I think we can all agree it’s time for support, encouragement, and a helping hand regardless. People can reevaluate their own decisions later – it’s not like anyone wants to be stranded on the roof of their house, or stuck on a bridge in a traffic jam with a major hurricane bearing down. There is absolutely never any value to finger-pointing and criticism in a situation like this.
You’ve heard of Fake News? – Well, “favor” is Fake Theology
One thing I am certain we can finally dispense with at this point is the whole notion that being “in” with God in any way improves anyone’s chances of avoiding anything from inconvenience, to personal tragedy, to natural disasters. Nor will it enhance your financial situation! Of course this was never a Bible-based teaching to begin with.
Here is what God promises: “Whatever happens, I’m going to be with you, you can count on it” (Psalm 23 and Matthew 28). Jesus said, “For (God) gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike” (Matthew 5:45).
I don’t have any pat answers to tidily explain why terrible things happen, other than the obvious fact that we live in a broken world. But I do have a deep and completely trustworthy assurance that God will be with us, and for us, in the middle of whatever difficulty, tragedy, disaster, or trouble we may go through.
Atheists often point to tragedy and catastrophe to explain whey they do not – will not – believe in God. However, some of the most compelling testimonies to God’s love, grace, reality, and undeniable presence come out of experiences of pain, disaster, grief, and loss.
In this world real faith is never about an easy, convenient, or “favored” life. Real faith is about, “How do we respond?” and, “How do we love?” and, “What do we hold on to when the tough times come?” They always come.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
May the Creator, the God of peace, love, and compassion, fill you with the life and strength you need in this – and every – hour.
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there's always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor's degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men's Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.