December 16, 2021
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Besides all the other upheaval of 2020, it was like a record year for hurricanes. They went through the entire English alphabet of names, then they started on the Greek alphabet! It's reminiscent of those two massive hurricanes that hit within days of each other. Remember? Harvey swamped Texas. Irma devastated Florida.
First, they talked about rescue - saving lives. Then came the long slog they call recovery. Weeks. Months. Years. But the aftermath of Florida's previous monster hurricane, Hurricane Andrew, actually yielded some unforeseen good from the storm. Andrew's killer winds revealed fatal weaknesses in a lot of their buildings and the need for much stronger building codes. As a result, Hurricane Irma, with all her punishing gusts, couldn't do the damage Andrew had done.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Today's Storm, Tomorrow's Strengths"
From that tale of two hurricanes, a tale of many storm-ravaged lives emerges. From the devastation of one storm came a new strength to withstand future storms. That's what's happened in many a life that's torn up by one of life's Category 5 storms. Heartbreaking losses. A life-altering medical hit. A shipwrecked relationship. Maybe a family crisis. Or, as in my life, the loss of the one you love deeply.
For many, from the rubble of that storm came something stronger than ever before. And you know what that is? It's called hope! A defiant hope! Yes, life-storms do damage. But they also expose where there are weak spots - in my character, my relationship with God, in my family, my marriage, in our parenting. Weak spots that are there because of past wounds maybe that we've never dealt with.
Often, a major life-storm means a major life-loss of some kind: your health, your income, your future plans, your marriage, your loved one. And that loss leaves a gaping hole. I'm not sure that hole ever goes away. But after the storm, you have a choice. Let your loss, and the hole that it leaves, define your life from now on. Well, goodbye hope. Or begin to rebuild your life around that hole. And to rebuild your life ON what you've learned from that loss. Now that's a blueprint for hope.
That's the perspective in our word for today from the Word of God in Romans 5:3-5. It shows the constructive possibilities from a destructive event. "We can rejoice, too," it says, "when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment, for we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love."
Great athletes have served their time in the weight room usually, pushing hard to increase their bench press. And lifting more than they've ever lifted before? Well, it hurts. There's pain. But coaches want to see you in that weight room. Because the pain of lifting more than you've ever lifted before will make you stronger than you've ever been before. More powerful, more confident, more valuable, more useful to God than you've ever been before because you've been in God's weight room.
No, you can't stop the storm, you can't stop its effects. But you can choose to not retreat but to rebuild. Working with God on the vulnerabilities that the storm revealed. Rebuilding stronger than ever before. Ready for whatever storms may come.
Or, in the Bible's words: "In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).