My Florida friends spent last week preparing for Hurricane Ian. Some reinforced windows in their homes. Another packed up a bunch of her possessions and evacuated to another location. As they waited for this dreaded event, one posted a meme that read, “Waiting on a hurricane is like being stalked by a turtle.”
No one likes just waiting for a storm to hit. I don’t think anyone likes being hit by a surprise storm either. Being on the water when the wind and waves pick up is terrifying. Getting a three-minute heads-up that a tornado is coming your way leaves you scrambling for the basement. Waking up to an earthquake shaking sends your heart racing. The unexpected spring snow makes you consider moving.
If I had to pick between the heads-up storms, filled with tense days of anticipation, or the surprise storms, where I just have to deal with the moment, I’m not sure I could. I guess I’d rather not have to deal with the storms at all.
It’s the same with life. Sometimes you just know the big family blowup is coming. Maybe you are anxiously dreading the call that she relapsed and overdosed. Perhaps you’re waiting for that one-more-house-repair that requires the few remaining dollars in your bank account. Then there are storms you aren’t prepared for, such as your teenager’s leukemia diagnosis, the call that your not-even-middle-aged spouse was killed in an accident, or that the company is failing and you no longer have a job.
What do you do when life storms hit? Well, I don’t have answers for your specific situation, but—taking a few cues from my Florida friends—I know two things that are true.
- Prepare now. As much as I don’t like storms, I’m old enough to know they will come. You do too. So use times that are calm to build your trust in God, to prepare your heart, your mind, your faith. Read your Bible and fill your mind with the truth that God loves you, that he is your help, that he is gracious, righteous, and full of compassion. Find a church community that will love and encourage you, hold you accountable, and pray for you. This will prepare you for the times when storms hit and you ask the question, “Seriously, God?” (Shameless plug for Pastor Mike’s awesome message this week about a man named Job—pronounced Jobe—whose whole world was rocked by storm after storm!)
- Let people help. I don’t have God’s whole plan at my disposal, so I might not know why he’s doing what he’s doing, but I do know that he says he sets the times and places where people live. So when the storms of life hit and there’s a mess, the people around you are put there by him to support you at the exact time when you need it. They are there to hug you, drive you to the doctor, give you gift cards for gas and meals, pray with and for you. The best part? They probably understand. After all, some of the best helpers are ones who have been hurt by storms before. They know what it’s like to have their lives devastated, and so they jump in to help.
You know, Jesus was a big fan of preparing for the expected and unexpected too. He told a huge crowd of people, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who once slept through a 7.2 earthquake in Alaska because the winds were blowing over 60 mph. The winds were shaking the house so much that she didn’t feel the earth shaking.