I am still working my way through Max Lucado’s book Anxious for Nothing. At the rate of a chapter a week, I am taking the time to read, to ponder and to think about the lessons of peace, or trust, or faith that I am encountering along the way.
Today’s chapter was about the “perfect storm”. In weather terms a perfect storm is that combination of gale force winds, pelting rain, surging seas, and zero visibility.
In life, a perfect storm is any combination of events that appears to be a recipe for disaster. Lucado writes: You needn’t be a fisherman to experience a perfect storm. All you need is a layoff, plus a recession. A disease plus a job transfer. A relationship breakdown plus a college rejection. We can handle one challenge…but two or three at a time?…its enough to make you wonder, “Will I survive?”
Do you know what is hard to find in such a perfect storm? Peace. Calm. Faith. Perspective.
I imagine that is how many of us are feeling right now. There is a pandemic, and a recession, we are locked in isolation, unable to see family and friends, many of us have lost jobs. It’s a perfect storm. How do we find peace?
Its certainly not easy.
About 7 years ago, I was unemployed, and homeless. Fortunately my daughter and her husband made room for me in their home. Which was a good thing, because my situation actually got worse. As soon as I settled in with them I was denied unemployment insurance payments and my car failed a mandatory safety inspection.
I came home from the repair shop with an estimate for 4000.00 dollars and a heavy heart. I parked in the garage, and slumped into the nearest lawn chair and cried.
BUT… I was/am fortunate.
I have a generous family who loved and supported me and floated me loans.
I have a network of friends across the country who prayed (and continue to pray) for me.
I found a community with which to worship who welcomed me with open arms and invited me to help on committees that nourished my spirit. First the refugee committee and then the Side by Side viability group.
That led to me being asked to be the coordinator of the day programme they started and for four wonderful years I had a small income and best of all got to plan a party a week for a group of people with dementia. In all that, I enjoyed the support of an awesome volunteer staff that made my wildest schemes happen.
So even in that storm, which lasted for 5 years until I was called to my current position, I was blessed. Richly blessed.
More than that I was at peace. So much so that sometimes people wondered if I was in denial.
True peace doesn’t alter your awareness of your circumstances; it arises as you recognize the hand of God at work in your life and then you find yourself ale to breathe and your heart stills. In the silence of the moment you are able to hear God speak deep peace to you.
Lucado writes: Our Father gives us the very peace of God. …We should be worried, but we aren’t. We should be upset, but we are comforted. The peace of God transcends all logic, scheming and efforts to explain it.
That is as true for me now as it was during those five years.
I recognize that I am indeed one of the fortunate people at this time. I still have work, although it is strange to post a sermon on a website rather than preach it to the people I have grown to love. But every day, I am blessed to have a reason to turn to God and to seek his insight and to recognize his blessing.
That doesn’t mean the pandemic doesn’t affect me. I worry about my own health risks, and my mother’s health risks. And the people I know who are in very fragile health and who are facing a battle, even without the risk of getting this virus.
And I am concerned about people I know who are working on the front line, in hospitals and grocery stores, homeless shelters, and food banks and goodness knows how many other ways.
When I worry, I pray. When I watch the news, I pray. When I listen to the press briefings, I pray. When I consider how truly fortunate I am to be living in Canada at this time, I pray for the other nations that are struggling in comparison.
So for all of you, who are touched by the perfect storm of this pandemic, I pray.
For the unemployed, all those who fall between the cracks and can’t get government funding I pray. For those who have lost investment income, I pray. For those who are sick, I pray.
For the people who are encountering other tragedies in addition to the anxiety of the pandemic, I pray.
For the people of the congregation and those who worship along on our website I try to speak the encouragement that I hear from God as I pray.
Sometimes it seems like my day is simply a running commentary of the things that I ask God to do for “his hurting world” and “his hurting people.”
In all of those prayers, I am reminded that we are children of God and that God waits to give us his peace.
HIS PEACE, not one we need to manufacture, but one that is a giant life raft just for us in the midst of this perfect storm. In time the seas will calm, the wind will stop and the rain will dry up; and when that happens we can look back and see how God has been faithful in and through it all.
I know from my own experiences of the perfect storm that we can’t always see God at work, but when the storm is over we do see how God’s hand has been at work the whole time.
So for all of us at this time I pray for His Peace in the midst of the storm.
Let us pray:
Holy God, we come to you with heavy hearts and overflowing tears
In this time we don’t know how to see you at work, we don’t know how to trust
Support us in this time, fill our hearts with comfort and our spirits with hope
Patiently walk with us as we learn to trust you to rebuild our lives
Encourage us with the voice that says, “do not fear”
Abide in us with your peace, until wherever we look we see you
Clear our hearts and our thoughts so that the voice of your peace can be heard
Enter our trembling hearts and be present with us forevermore. Amen