Almost two years ago (May 24, 2011) I wrote this post. Unfortunately, the words are once again appropriate. I still hate and yes, even fear, tornadoes. As we pray for those staring death and destruction in the face tonight in Oklahoma, may these words penned by David in a plea to his Heavenly Father bring us the peace and hope that we need as we face our own fears and worries. And may those in Oklahoma, faced with the not knowing and the reality of a new normal, be covered in the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
"Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah
God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!"
Psalm 57: 1-3
I hate tornadoes. Hate them. They scare me to death. This spring has been horrible when it comes to tornadoes. First a town in Arkansas, not forty minutes from us, was hit. Then the next day it was towns in Alabama and Mississippi. Hundreds of lives lost. Thousands upon thousands of lives changed forever.
I had family in most areas affected. All came out safely. Praise the Lord. But so many others did not. And now Joplin. Lord have mercy. Oh please, Lord have mercy. Storms are barreling through Oklahoma as I type this and causing fear as they tear across the countryside. And once again, I will go to bed tonight with trepidation in my heart. I will awaken at the sound of the wind and check the weather. I will pray and hope. Hope that lives and homes are spared tonight.
I am reading an incredible biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. In the chapter I read last night, in the days of Hitler's reign of terror, Bonhoeffer wrote a book about prayer and the Psalms. If there was ever a storm caused by a man, then Hitler was that man. Bonhoeffer reminded us that the Psalms were the prayers that Jesus prayed and he asserted that they were better prayers than we could ever come up with on our own. I don't know if I agree with this assertion, but it has me reading the Psalms a little bit more closely and contemplating them as prayers. When I read the above Psalm today, well I wondered if maybe Bonhoeffer had not gotten it right after all.
David's cry for mercy, his declaration of refuge in God until the storms pass, his acknowledgment that God will fulfill His purpose no matter what happens to us, and the assurance that God will send his love and faithfulness all come together in a prayer that brings him to his knees in front of his God. This is a prayer for anyone being pummeled by storms of every shape and size. It is a prayer for those sitting in the rubble of their former lives, no matter if that rubble was caused by a tornado, someone else's destructive choices or their very own. Or for those just digging through the rubble caused by life.
For those of you that are huddled in closets this evening praying that the storms pass you by, for those of you picking up the pieces of what remains of life as you know it, and for those of you that are just watching and praying from afar, pray Psalm 57:1-3 and know that the God Most High hears your voice and is giving you refuge in the shadow of His wings. He will fulfill his purpose for you. (Job 42:2; Isaiah 14:24; Psalm 138:8) He will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8; John 14:27) He has written you on the palm of His hands. (Isaiah 49:16)
O God, be merciful. Be merciful.