Yesterday, I shared some thoughts about God’s providence as it relates to some of the big questions that arise in moments of great difficulty and tragedy. To follow up, I would like to provide some things which we as Christians can meditate upon. It is easy to allow our minds to dwell on a dollar figure and ravaged buildings, or appraise our thoughts as though we are not pilgrims on our way home. While it is important that we do everything we can practically to support those affected by the storms, especially Union University, we should also consider this an opportunity to mediate on some eternal realities.
Here are some things that I have been thinking about over the past 48 hours. Feel free to share your thoughts.
God’s Power – Lord of creation, stirs of his breezes, and the waters flow
God’s Protection – God is our rock, fortress, strong tower, and refuge
God’s Providence – Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from our Father’s will
God’s Purposes – God will accomplish His good and perfect will
God’s People – God has created us to live in community with one another, bearing one another’s burdens, comforting one another with the comfort we have received from God, and serving one another with the love of Christ
God’s Peace – It passes all understanding and guards our hearts, He will keep us in perfect peace, and our Savior is the one who can say, “Peace, be still” and the winds and seas obey him!
Our Need for Prayer – we are a needy people, but this is never more evident when we are hit with a crisis
Our Permanent Dwelling Place – this world is not our home, and when our temporary houses crumble, let us remember that our Lord is preparing a place for us and long for the day when we shall forever be with our Lord
Our Passing in Life – we are like grass, our lives like a vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes away; consider the brevity of life, this one life we have, and not let us waste it!
Our Perspective in Life – our citizenship is in heaven, so we should set our thoughts above, not on things seen but the unseen
Our Piggy Banks – where our treasure is, there our heart is also, so let us place our affections where thieves cannot steal and tornadoes cannot destroy, and give sacrificially in such a way that we prize not the things which fade away, like silver and gold, but that which is eternal, as in the souls of men and woman
Our Problem of Sin and the Fall – chaos and confusions, tornadoes and trials remind us that we live in a fallen world, stained with sin, groaning for the day of redemption; let us also long for the consummation of all things in Christ who reigns over all
These are some of the meditations I have had since Wednesday morning upon hearing about the outcome of the storms at Union University. I would like to conclude my thoughts by offering a prayer for those affected and a hymn by Augustus Toplady called “A Sovereign Protector I Have.”
Lord of the valley,
I come to you on behalf of my dear brothers and sisters who have been through the valley of the shadow of death. They have known that you are with them, that your promises are true, that you are faithful, and that your rod and your staff protects them. I praise you for your greatness, you who brings the rain and catches our tears, who speaks the world into existence and numbers the hairs on our head. I ask that you will refresh the hearts of those discouraged and downcast and strengthen the resolve of those leading to persevere with patience and plan with diligence. I especially ask that you minister grace upon grace, comfort upon comfort to those who bear greatest responsibility, who will be making biggest decisions, including Dr. Dockery and the administration of Union, FEMA, and all other personnel and government officials. I thank you that you can not only calm the storms but can also calm our hearts with peace that passes all understanding. There are many who are restless who need to be led by still waters, many who have experienced great loss and need to know that you are their Shepherd and that they shall not want. Father, I pray that you prepare a table in the midst of the rubble and make yourself known to the people of Jackson and across the world that you are good, and your mercies are new every morning. Indeed, great is your faithfulness. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, let us not forget the moments when it seemed like the heavens opened up and our hearts opened wide to love and to share, to pray and to give, because it is in moments like this that we begin to learn to live. Lord Jesus, may your presence be felt among all who are affected, and may your glory be seen before a watching world comprised of many who have yet to enter the city of God. Holy Spirit, assist us to pray continually and fervently, to be useful to the spread of the gospel, and to the encouragement of the saints. For the sake of your name and the good of your people, I offer this prayer. Amen.
A Sovereign Protector I Have
A sovereign protector I have,
Unseen, yet for ever at hand,
Unchangeably faithful to save,
Almighty to rule and command.
He smiles and my comforts abound;
His grace as the dew shall descend,
And walls of salvation surround
The soul He delights to defend.
Kind Author and ground of my hope,
Thee, Thee, for my God I avow;
My glad Ebenezer set up
And own Thou hast helped me till now.
I muse on the years that are past
Wherein my defence Thou hast proved;
Nor wilt Thou relinquish at last
A sinner so signally loved.
Inspirer and Hearer of prayer,
Thou Shepherd and Guardian of Thine,
My all to Thy covenant care
I sleeping and waking resign.
If Thou art my Shield and my Sun,
The night is no darkness to me;
And, fast as my moments roll on,
They bring me but nearer to Thee.
– Augustus Toplady, December 1774