The biggest active volcano on our planet began erupting last Sunday. Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano had not erupted since 1984, according to the US Geological Survey. However, people on the Big Island had feared this moment for decades since Mauna Loa had been overdue for an eruption after its longest quiet period on record.
Volcanologists have not predicted thus far how long the eruption will last or where the lava might travel, so authorities have opened shelters on the island as a precaution. While the lava is so far contained within the summit and does not yet threaten Hawaiians living downslope, volcanic gases and fine ash may drift their way.
Focus on the Family sign vandalized
If you’re not on the Big Island, this does not mean you’re exempt from Mother Nature.
The Storm Prediction Center is warning of a “significant severe-weather event” later today across parts of the lower Mississippi River Valley. Tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds, and large hail are possible. Nighttime tornadoes are especially a threat for this evening. A strong Pacific storm system will also begin impacting the states of Washington and Oregon tonight with heavy rain and snow along with strong winds.
In other news, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has confirmed that a person killed in a shooting Saturday night was twelve years old. In all, Metro Atlanta police departments responded to fifteen shootings and stabbings over the Thanksgiving weekend. And a sign outside the Focus on the Family facility in Colorado was vandalized on Thanksgiving Day in response to the Club Q mass shooting that left five people dead and seventeen wounded. Graffiti was left at their facility reading, “Their blood is on your hands five lives taken.”
A key leader on our ministry team lost a family member the day before Thanksgiving. A very dear friend had surgery yesterday. You can add your own stories of challenges this morning.
A theological weathervane
We focused in yesterday’s Daily Article on the fact of God’s unconditional love as demonstrated in the Christmas gift of his Son. As I noted, the Father sent his Son not because we are lovable but because he is love (1 John 4:8). We can do nothing to earn his love, which means we can do nothing to lose it.
Circumstances do not change his character. As God declares in his word, “I the Lᴏʀᴅ do not change” (Malachi 3:6). Scripture says of our Savior, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
A farmer mounted a weathervane atop a barn with the words “GOD IS LOVE.” A pastor walking by thought them inappropriate, believing that the farmer meant to say God’s love changes with the shifting winds. His companion disagreed, suggesting that no matter which way the wind blows God is still love.
But the fact that God’s character does not change may not mean all that we think it does.
“So this is what God’s really like”
In A Grief Observed, C. S. Lewis chronicled his personal heartache when his wife, Joy Davidman Gresham, died of bone cancer. At one point he wrote, “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’”
When the volcano erupts and lava is headed our way, where is our God? When storms are coming and tornadoes are roaring, what good is prayer? When friends lose loved ones, why intercede to the God who could have prevented their deaths?
The holidays bring these questions into sharp relief. My father died ten days before Christmas in 1979; the Christmas season has been forever different as a result. Many of you have similar stories.
At such times, you have a binary choice to make: you can interpret God’s character through the prism of your circumstances, or you can interpret your circumstances through the prism of God’s character.
“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
When we do the latter, everything changes. Like physical eyeglasses that focus the way we see the world, these spiritual eyeglasses help us see what we could not see before.
When we believe no matter which way the wind blows that “God is love,” we learn that we can see his presence with us in the hardest places and times of life. We experience personally his promise, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isaiah 43:2). We discover that we can say with David, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4).
And we trust that he is redeeming our pain in ways we may not understand on this side of glory, so we rest in the fact that one day “I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Charles Spurgeon commented: “Satan may plot to enslave us, but if the Lord is on our side, whom shall we fear? The world, with its temptations, may seek to ensnare us, but mightier is he who is for us than all they who be against us. The machinations of our own deceitful hearts may harass and annoy us, but he who hath begun the good work in us will carry it on and perfect it to the end.
“The foes of God and the enemies of man may gather their hosts together and come with concentrated fury against us, but if God acquitteth, who is he that condemneth? Not more free is the eagle which mounts to his rocky eyrie, and afterwards outsoars the clouds, than the soul which Christ hath delivered.”
According to Spurgeon, our response should be one of grateful obedience: “I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds. Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”
Would you make his prayer yours today?