In the Midst of the Storm
by Guest Watchman Efrain, San Juan PR
We’ve all found ourselves in the middle of a storm at some point in our lives, haven’t we? Whether it was a storm manifested physically like a tropical storm, a hurricane, or a tornado that tore through our houses; or maybe a storm that was formed in the spiritual realm and caused us to have problems in our health, in our relationships, or in our financial status. We’ve all gone through such storms in life and asked ourselves, “What are we going to do now?”
Not long ago, the category 4 hurricane Maria hit the islands in the Caribbean and completely changed the lives of their inhabitants. Among those islands was the island of Puerto Rico, my homeland.
Maria hit on the 20th of September 2017. It surprised most of the island’s inhabitants and left a huge portion of them without electrical power or running water for months. Many lost their jobs, others lost their homes and were forced to leave the island. Some even lost family members.
Maria wind speeds exceeded 155mph, tearing off zinc rooftops, bending and breaking full-grown trees, flipping cars, and shattering windows. The terrain was left looking like a war zone.
People woke up to a different Puerto Rico on the 21st of September. Not knowing how bad things were, many tried to leave their houses but were thwarted by the innumerable trees, power cables, and zinc rooftops on the roads. With almost zero communication available, many wondered if their families were still alive, if they still had a job to return to, or if someone was coming to rescue them from their flooded homes.
In the following months, the people of Puerto Rico underwent a period of depression, uncertainty, fear, loneliness, and anger. Some began to steal whatever little resources they could find, some were scamming those who tried to help others, and some even sold that which was freely given to them.
To the naked eye, this was all caused by a natural disaster, but to the believer, this was much more than the effect caused by a physical storm. This was spiritual warfare. As a Christian, one may wonder: “Where is God in all of this? Is He even here? Does He even care about what’s going on? If He does, why would He allow such a terrible thing to happen?”
I was fortunate enough to witness the Lord’s Hand at work before I could ask such questions. I first saw Him as He protected my home from receiving major damages and kept it from flooding. I also saw His Hand as He protected my workplace where we were able to serve people and provide food and water. But the place where I saw God’s hand at work the most, was in my church family, Calvary Chapel of Puerto Rico. God protected the church building from flooding and provided everything that she needed to be able to bless her members and reach out to the Puerto Rican community in ways that she never dreamed of through hurricane relief efforts.
The Sunday after the hurricane, our church was fortunate enough to be able to hold a service in the morning where the senior pastor encouraged the congregation by letting us know that help was on the way. Donations were being sent to us from all over the world, and we would have a chance to serve the people of Puerto Rico like never before. He reminded us that we were currently in a spiritual battlefield and we had two choices: Either stand and fight for the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven by serving others and proclaiming His Goodness or sit in our houses, not doing anything for anyone, caring only for ourselves.
In the months to come, I was blessed to see a great portion of our church family giving up their time, talents and treasures and letting the Lord use them to serve those in need. Through them, the Lord was able to provide close to 2.5 million pounds of food, water, and relief supplies to the people of Puerto Rico! Yet many people still asked: “Where is God in all of this?”
Sometimes it can be really hard for us to see God at work. We begin to focus all our attention on our problems, our fears, our current situations, and our own desires. We forget that God has promised to take care of us and in turn, we end up losing faith in Him. Many of the people in Puerto Rico failed in this. They lost faith and began to complain, to steal and to scam.
What about you? What would you have done in such a situation? Better yet, what do you do when going through the storms of life? Do you begin to question God’s presence and His goodness? Do you begin to panic and start making decisions that benefit you at other people’s expense?
In Psalm 1:3, speaking of what a godly man looks like, the Psalmist says: “And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season; Its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”
When you’re going through the storms of life, are you “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,” or do you let your beliefs get bent and broken? Do you yield the fruit that the Spirit wants to produce in you, or do you let your leaves wither? When the storm finally calms down, will you be able to say that you prospered, or will you be reminded of how you lost faith and gave up?
It may be difficult to see the work of God’s Hand when you’re in the middle of all the chaos, but as followers of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t we see these moments as opportunities for the Lord to work in us and through us? Shouldn’t we be praising Him and trusting that not only is He close, but better yet, He is in the midst of the Storm?
It’s been almost a year since the hurricane and things are looking a lot better. Most of the running water, electricity, and communications have been restored. A lot of the rooftops have either been replaced or covered with tarps. A lot of businesses have been remodeled and reopened. People have been able to return to their homes, their jobs, and their families.
To the naked eye, this may seem like the result of many people coming together and working in one accord, but to the believer, it is much more than that. This is God working through His Spirit.
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