God & Storms: Does God protect us?

This blog post was originally published in October 2014. It seemed appropriate to repost it in the midst of this historic hurricane season, as we continue to pray for all those facing storms.

How would you answer the question, "Does God protect us?"

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Do you ever pray about the weather?  “Pray for good weather this Sunday for the church picnic.”  While there’s certainly nothing wrong with praying for this sort of thing, it may create legitimate questions in our minds:  If God would arrange good weather for our church picnic, why wouldn’t he arrange for hurricanes to avoid heavily populated areas, or for monsoons to stop before they become devastating floods, or for rain to fall on drought-stricken farms? Why not redirect a polar vortex or subdue a tsunami?

Can God control the weather?  Of course.  But does he?

In this way, earth’s storms are not unlike the storms of life.  We can and we should pray about the difficulties and devastations we face.  We must always communicate with, and lean on and believe in, our loving and powerful God.  But we are well aware that he does not always intervene when it comes to “bad weather.”  Could God control every aspect of our lives, create a wall around us, protecting us from every bad thing?  Perhaps.  But does he?  He most certainly does not.

Perhaps it comes down to a question of how God protects us.  There are times in life when we feel miraculously protected – walking away from a car accident, being thrown from a horse and standing up good as new.  But for the most part, we get tossed around by life with scars to show for it – there are injuries, illnesses, heartbreaks, sleeplessness, stress and death – for all of God’s children.  The rain falls on everyone, and some even seem to get more than their fair share.  God does not always shield us from these things.  And yet he remains our powerful protector.  He protects not with a power that interferes with each event, but a power that gathers us in, and pulls us near, and makes and keeps promises about being with us.  It is a power that may strike us as a bit too subtle at times, and yet as time passes, we recognize how awesome, and how essential, and how real it actually is.

As a parent, I do not want my children to suffer, and I am naturally tempted to smooth their paths in whatever way I can.  But even more than I may want an easy life for them, I want a great life for them.  I want them to be great.  And the fact is that great people have suffered. They have experienced the storms of life without always bailing out into the nearest shelter. They have learned the most important things by being brought down low.  Storms transformed them and made them strong, wise, clearheaded and serene.  Wounded?  Yes, that too.  But we can be wounded and still be great.  It is much harder to be utterly unscathed and be anything more than mediocre.

God allows bad weather – really bad weather – and he allows life’s storms.  Sometimes the storms are so bad that our wounds don’t heal.  For those times we may simply have to surrender:  “Lord, I know you may not change this storm, but you are always willing to change me.  So if you must, make me great!”

Hurricane Harvey makes destructive landfall on the coast of Texas on Aug. 25, 2017. Image credit NOAA/RAMMB.

Hurricane Harvey makes destructive landfall on the coast of Texas on Aug. 25, 2017. Image credit NOAA/RAMMB.