Pastor Jim Howard
First Baptist Church
46 years ago, a tornado passed through our family farm. I remember details that seem so vivid in my memory. At the time I was only 8 and for me, this storm wasn’t something that I feared, but rather something that was very exciting. Lots of rain, hail and wind. I recall being hustled down into the basement and my grandmother opening a lot of windows in the house. The thinking back then was that you opened the windows to relieve the pressure & lessen the potential damage.
The actual storm passed quite quickly and I remember the sun coming out almost immediately afterward. We all went upstairs and outside. The damage was relatively light with trees uprooted and farm equipment overturned. The buildings were relatively unscathed. The tornado only grazed us!
The events of late in Oklahoma remind us of how dangerous tornadoes can be! Our hearts go out to those victimized by the storm and those who are dealing with the loss of loved ones. Horatio Spafford penned the words to the song “It Is Well with My Soul” which expressed his heart and hope after the loss of his children in a shipwreck at sea. “When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’” I’ve often wondered how he could express such a perspective in the midst of extreme grief.
When faith in Christ is a way of life, we find that the peace of God is most certainly unexplainable (Philippians 4:7), This does not mean that we do not hurt or grieve or feel a sense of profound loss. It does mean that through the midst of the traumas and tribulations, that we have an incredible sense that we are not alone (Heb. 13:5), and that God will take care of our needs (Philippians 4:19). Life will be full of storms that at times threaten to swamp our boat and overwhelm us. As we go through those storms, remember that God has promised to see us through them. If the storm results in our death, we have the confidence of knowing that our next breath will be heavenly! (2 Corinthians 5:8)
I remember that after the tornado had passed through our farm, we went outside into warm sunshine and clearing skies. The air was incredibly fresh and calm. It would take us many weeks to clean up after that storm. The appearance of the farm changed, just as life changed, but life moved on. When the storms of life prevail, they will pass! We will endure and persevere!
How could Spafford express such words in his song? Because of an eternal hope! “And, Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll, The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, ‘Even so’ – it is well with my soul.”