Til the storm passes over…

Hurricane Florence devastated the east coast. As of the writing of this article 17 people have died as a result of the enormous and powerful storm. Evacuation was mandatory for many. Homes have been destroyed. Families have been displaced. The hurricane may no longer show up on radar, but the storm is not yet over -its effects will be felt for many months, and even years. Challenging days are surely ahead for cities and towns and communities who are left to rebuild that which has been destroyed. The hurricane may no longer show up on the radar, but the storm is not yet over - its effects will be felt for many months, and even years. Challenging days are surely ahead for families who are left to mourn the deaths of loved ones and to try to restore homes and hope that have been destroyed. 

I am continuing to pray for the recovery and restoration after Hurricane Florence, and I hope to do my part to help in tangible ways. 

On Monday afternoon Florence had entered Virginia and its power was still being felt. At least 13 tornadoes were reported, and I watched the live Facebook feed of a Richmond TV Station. The meteorologist did an incredible job updating his viewers as the storm moved and strengthened. I became terrified as he used words like “mesocyclone” and “wind sheers capable of producing tornadoes at any moment.” My fear increased as he said, “the storm is approaching Parham and Patterson… it is right over Derbyshire Road.” He was describing the exact location of my former church and our former neighborhood. The storm was hovering over the homes of our friends, and my brother and sister-in-law. Then he said, “In my 11 years as chief meteorologist at CBS 6, nothing really compares to this storm.”

I had been praying fervently while listening to all of this, but I began to pray even more intensely. “Jesus, you calm storms…tell this one to stop!” The storm didn’t stop. All I could do was keep praying until the storm eventually passed. 

This situation also makes me think of other storms in life. What are we to do when Jesus didn’t calm our storm? What are we to do when hope is hidden by the darkness of despair and there seems to be no light in sight? What are we to do when our prayers seem to go unanswered?

I am reminded of my dad’s “backpocket-sermon” that he preached often over the years when he has been called to speak words of hope to churches going through turmoil or have experienced great grief and despair. The sermon title is “Till The Storm Passes Over,” and my dad would sing the Gaither Vocal Band song:

Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe till the storm passes by

There will be another hurricane, and there will be more tornadoes. We will continue to experience other “storms” in our lives. We will pray for Jesus to calm the storm, but let us not lose faith if the winds keep howling and we are stuck in the middle of a deluge, because God is with us and God is holding us fast and keeping us safe till the storm passes by. 

Fortunately, my family and friends in Richmond are all fine. The storm did, however, cause one death and a lot of damage to homes and businesses. May we continue to pray for those whose storm is still raging on in the wake of Florence. May they know Christ’s peace and hope. 

-William Deal