Hurricane Irma is personal for me in a way no other storm has been. The reason: it targeted my family.
My brother and his wife live in the Tampa area. My wife’s older sister and her husband live in Orlando. Last night, they were directly impacted by the largest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic. All four survived, but we do not yet know the damage to their homes.
Irma has already devastated Cuba, becoming the first Category 5 hurricane to hit the island since 1924. Havana has experienced unprecedented flooding; homes and towns across the north of Cuba are destroyed.
Then the hurricane turned its wrath on Florida. As of this morning, 6.5 million people have been evacuated. Four million Floridians are without power, more than 40 percent of all customers in the state. Five have died, in addition to twenty-seven deaths in the Caribbean.
I prayed for the Lord to push this storm away from land and out into the sea. Instead, it attacked Cuban Christians, brothers and sisters I dearly love and have visited many times over the years. Then it turned and targeted my family.
I pray each day for God’s protection for my family and nation. I’m sure you do the same. When our prayers seem unanswered, how can we continue trusting the One to whom we pray?
Actually, it’s when our prayers seem unanswered that we most need to trust him.
Job testified, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him” (Job 13:15). When the Babylonian king threatened to throw Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego into the fiery furnace, they responded: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Daniel 3:17–18, my italics).
The prophet Habakkuk prayed: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17–18).
We have two options. We can have a contractual relationship with God whereby we fulfill our responsibilities so that he fulfills his. If he doesn’t answer prayer the way we wish, we feel justified in rejecting him.
Or we can have a covenant relationship with our Father whereby we make an unconditional commitment to the One who loves us unconditionally. The more we understand his ways, the less we need to trust him. The less we understand him, the more we need to trust him.
The psalmist prayed, “Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen” (Psalm 77:19). On this hard morning, our family is choosing to covenant with a Father who loves us and redeems all he allows.
Why do you need such a covenant with your Lord today?