Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Safe Place in the Pandemic Storm


Dear Friends,

Heavy rain pounds the roof. Lightning strikes are hitting the ridge on the hills just a half mile away and my wood-frame house shakes and shudders with each resounding percussive blast of thunder. Now the lightning and thunder occur at the same moment. It’s directly overhead and so violent I wonder if my windows will shatter. This is Sean McDougal’s first thunderstorm and he’s terrified. Sean is my “rescue cat” and he was approaching his first birthday. There’s a direct lightning strike a half block away and the sound of an explosion. It feels like a giant fist is pounding the house with each thunderclap. But Sean has found a safe place under the bed. A place where the fiercest, scariest storms cannot reach him – where he has found both shelter and a heretofore misplaced catnip-filled toy. A few minutes before, the explosive thunder had sent him frantically tearing around the house in a panic, but now in the sanctuary beneath the bed, he is calm and he stretches out to relax and wait out the storm.

Where do you go when the storms of life hit? When a worldwide pandemic has just changed life as you know it. When you may be experiencing anxiety, uncertainty and fear that just seems overwhelming at times. When it seems like all hell is breaking loose in your personal world and evil is raining down on you, where do you find your sanctuary? Where is your safe place?

Several years ago, during a church service, everyone was given a blank 3x5 card and asked to write down their favorite praise and worship songs that we sing on Sunday. We had a list of nearly two hundred songs so I thought everyone’s list would be completely different. I was surprised to see that the majority of those in our congregation had named “Here In The Shadow” as their top favorite. If you never went to our church, you’ve probably never heard this song. It was written by a  songwriter-worship leader, Shannon Wexelberg, and released on one of her albums about fifteen years ago. Here In The Shadow is based on Psalm 17:6-8 and some of the lyrics are: Here in the shadow.. Here in the shadow of Your wings.. Here in the shadow.. I will rest here Father.. I won’t fear tomorrow.. I will rest here Father.. You are my peace. I shouldn’t have been surprised that this had become one of the most beloved songs in our church because it so well describes our own sanctuary during the storms of life.

In the Old Testament, we read that Saul had loved David like a son, but when God rejected Saul and chose David to be the king, Saul flew into a jealous rage and vowed to kill David. Fleeing in fear of losing his life, David hid in a cave and wrote these words: “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to You for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of Your wings until the danger passes by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me. He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me. My God will send forth His unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 57:1-3 NLT One translation says, “in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge until the ruinous storm passes by."

That’s where we need to be living today. In the shadow of His wings where we will make our refuge until the ruinous storm of this plague passes by. “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust Him. For He will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with His feathers. He will shelter you with His wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness..” Psalm 91:1-6 NLT 

We must be wise and do everything possible to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy while, at the same time, we do not dread this disease that can attack our bodies but not our souls. This is not the first intense and frightening storm of life that we’ve lived through. The loss of a loved one – a child, spouse or parent. A child or grandchild walking on a path to self-destruction. A doctor’s diagnosis of a devastating illness. Financial and legal difficulties. Depression. Loneliness. The storms of life will always be with us because we live in a fallen world, and yet no matter what  circumstances befall us, Jesus promises that our peace is in Him, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

In the storms of life, we run to God and find sanctuary in the shelter of His wings. Psalm 61:4 NLT He invites us to rest there trusting in Him and we know that no matter how bad the storm gets, it will pass. Three hours after my house was battered by that morning thunderstorm, the skies were calm. The sun was shining through patches of white clouds and rain drops on the olive tree leaves sparkled in the sunlight. Sean McDougal was running through the house, leaping joyfully in the air and playing with a catnip mouse. The thunderstorm was over. All was well again. This storm – this plague – will soon be over too. God is good. Amen?

Listen to Shannon Wexelberg sing Here In The Shadow

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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