Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Storms of Life: Bitter or Better

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25)

This past week, the Southeastern United States experienced a series of devastating storms. Tornadoes, wind bursts, and violent thunderstorms produced winds of over 100 miles per hour in some places, leveling houses, businesses, and tossing vehicles and other debris through the air, killing over 300 people, injuring several thousand, and causing millions of dollars worth of damage in towns across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, and other places. Meteorological records confirm that this was the deadliest set of storms to hit America since 1932.

Though our own community of Marietta and eastern Cobb County was spared this time around, we have nevertheless experienced other strong storms with high winds over the last 3-4 weeks. Thankfully, no one was hurt and no property damage was reported along with those storms -- other than our “temporary” church sign being blown over three times, with the final time destroying its base, forcing us to leave it lying on the ground for the time being! Still, living in and around the Atlanta area most of my life, I can’t remember the last time we’ve had quite so many windy days and stormy nights!

Contemplating all of this has reminded me of one of Jesus’ famous parables from Matthew 7. In, Jesus says that if we’ll listen and then act upon his words, we’ll be like a wise man who built his house upon a foundation of rock, so that when “the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house,… it did not fall.” And he goes on to warn that if we do not listen to and act upon his words, we’ll be like a foolish man who built his house upon a foundation of sand, so that when “the rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house… it fell -- and great was its fall!”

I’ve unfortunately known people (including more than a few church members) in the latter category… people who fall apart emotionally, mentally, and spiritually when they get hit with a tough challenge of some sort. For example, perhaps they lose their spouse, lose their job, get a bad grade on a test or job review, lose a project bid, or are rejected in some way. In other words, all of the struggle and hardship that they go through causes them to become BITTER and angry at life, at the world, at others, and even at God.

By the same token, I’ve also known many people who have placed their faith and trust in Christ to such a degree that when they’re hit with hard times like those above, they do not fall apart, but who instead persevere through these things. They are people who allow the tough situations and circumstances of life to make them BETTER through (and even because of) these challenges.

So, what is your life built upon… a foundation of rock (genuinely trusting God) that enables you to weather the storms when hard times come? …Or a foundation of sand (trusting in worldly happiness and success) that may cause you to give up at the first sign of trouble? My prayer is that you’ll choose to put your trust and faith in God, so that when the stormy days and windy nights (e.g., the hard times) come (and they will) you’ll be able to persevere!

Remember that God loves you and I do, too!

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