“Who needs a new roof?” was my simple question. My heart sank as I stood before the church I love and watched as virtually every hand in the room was raised. Hands continued to go up as I probed deeper—“How many have demolished cars?” and “How many of you cannot live in your home?”
Our community was reeling after enduring a once-in-a-lifetime hailstorm. Six days earlier, grapefruit-sized hailstones had rained down, ripping through people’s roofs, smashing windows, and destroying vehicles.
The days were difficult, but it was inspiring to watch the church be the church. Your missiology and ecclesiology are simplified when the ministry becomes boarding windows, sweeping glass, opening doors, preparing food, giving dollars, lifting prayers, and sharing hugs.
The questions people ask me are not so simple: “Why did this happen?” “Where is God in this?” “How is this loving?” When people ask questions of the soul, they need more than trite clichés and home-cooked casseroles. Deep questions cannot be silenced by a good theological clubbing from the church’s sovereignty bully (every church has at least one).
The reality is that we live on the fallen side of eternity. Creation is broken, and we live in a world of broken dreams, broken hearts, broken homes, broken lives, broken promises, broken relationships, broken bodies, and broken souls. Our relationships with one another and our relationship with God have been broken by sin. But God’s plan seeks to liberate what He creates. Paul reminds us in Romans 8:2 that “Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” Our faith transcends the difficulty of our times and frees us to live in the hope “that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Romans 8:21).
Much of what God is doing right now in your life, your family, your church, your community, your nation, and your world is beyond your finite ability to see it, hear it, touch it, or control it. God’s plan is more immense than what I can sense. Thinking theologically: God is sovereign over all. Hence, God either allows or dictates all that happens. All He allows or dictates must be within the authority of an all-powerful, benevolent God whose very nature defines love. Therefore, when God’s children experience adversity, we persevere, knowing that God’s love and wisdom ensure that, on the other side of the darkness, God is doing something holy and good. In every adversity, there is opportunity.
God often uses adversity to grow us closer to Him and closer to others. As we inventoried our adversity, we discovered the hailstorms had brought the gifts of opportunity. Through adversity we were given the opportunity to love our neighbor as we met needs, patched holes, and prayed for those in need. Adversity had given us the opportunity to express the genuineness of our faith. There is no greater beauty than the melody of adversity’s hymn as the church sings of God’s glory. Adversity had brought us a common story with a common need, giving us the opportunity to share the Gospel story and meet the deepest need.
Resting in God’s sovereignty is more than just trusting God for what I don’t know; resting in God’s sovereignty drives me to the comfort of God’s love and integrity. I rest in the knowledge that God always vindicates what He dictates. God’s will and His nature will always prove themselves to be true. The cross, the empty tomb, the Holy Spirit, and the converted heart all display themselves as testimonies to the truth that God is sovereign. It is our knowledge of God, His glorious goodness and sustaining strength that allow us to declare victory through Him who loved us (Romans 8:37). It is our knowledge of God, His undeserved grace and inseparable love that persuade us to go forward in faith rather than retreat in fear (Romans 8:15, 38-39).
I am thankful for the incredible opportunity God gives me to live with His people on the fallen side of eternity. It turns out the once-in-a-lifetime moment is not the hailstorm; it is living life with people I love whose prized earthly possessions are full of holes, whose minds are full of questions, but whose hearts are full of praise for the One who loves us without end.
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