If you happen to live in an area that experiences Chinook winds, you have undoubtedly experienced sudden change. In January 1943, warm Chinook winds hit Spearfish, South Dakota, quickly raising the temperatures from –4 to +45 degrees F in just two minutes!The widest temperature change recorded in the US in a 24-hour period is an incredible 103 degrees! It took place in our home state of Montana where the community of Loma, on January 15, 1972, saw the temperature jump from –54 to +49 degrees F.
Sudden change is not restricted to weather. This spring the whole world experienced sudden change, as in a matter of a few days our normal routines of work, school, recreation, church, travel, etc., were drastically changed due to the Covid-19 virus pandemic. Change is sometimes the very nature of life. In the Bible, James reminds us, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year and engage in business and make a profit.’ Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that’” (Jas. 3:13-15).
We cannot presume upon the future or of life remaining as it is today. We can experience the unexpected death of a loved one, a surprise health diagnosis, a financial reversal, broken relationships—sudden changes that we didn’t see coming. “Life is a journey with many unpredictable elements” (The Daily Bread, Feb. 27, 2020). That’s why James warns us to acknowledge the sovereignty of God in our lives, and say “Lord willing, we will do such and such.” None of us is even promised that we will be alive tomorrow, for “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). We do not know when that appointment is—God is in charge of that. So, “Lord, If I’m still here tomorrow, this is what I plan to do, unless you have something else in mind.”
But this I do know, while the events of our lives may be uncertain, and the unpredictable often happens, nothing ever takes God by surprise and He will be right there with us through life’s unexpected moments—like a pandemic—and He will never desert or forsake us (Heb. 13:15). He is our one constant throughout life. He is our Rock, “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride” (Psa. 46:1-3).
Jesus had been teaching by the Sea of Galilee. Such a great multitude gathered that He had to get into a fishing boat and continue His teaching to the crowd gathered on shore. He taught in parables such as the sower and the seed, the wheat and the tares, the mustard seed and the pearl of great price (Mt. 13). Then when evening came, He told His disciples, “Let’s go to the other side (of the lake)” (Mk. 4:35). Jesus, exhausted from a long day of teaching, fell asleep in the boat and a sudden storm came up. The Sea of Galilee, which is some 680-700 feet below sea level with a range of mountains on either side, is subject to sudden winds sweeping down off the mountains, especially at night. Waves have been observed reaching 20 feet in height. The disciples, some of whom were experienced fishermen on the Sea of Galilee were afraid for their boats and their very lives as waves were breaking over the boat (Mk. 4:37), so they awakened Jesus “and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Hush, be still.’ And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm” (v. 39). I’m sure the disciples learned a lot more about their Teacher that day as they observed His power over nature. They hadn’t fully realized yet His deity as the God-Man.
Storms can arise suddenly in our lives too, as they did for all of us in mid-March this spring. Sometimes God calms the storms, but other times He calms us in the midst of the storm. In either case, He is in control—we are not. We need to trust Him to do that which is for our good and brings Him the most glory. God’s words to Isaiah the prophet are good ones for us today: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). Remember, “If God is for us, who (or what) is against us?” (Ro. 8:31). Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ—not even a world-wide pandemic! (Ro. 8:35). PTL!!