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In a record year for storms, let’s find shelter in the Almighty

This satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Iota in the North Atlantic Ocean on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.
This satellite image made available by NOAA shows Hurricane Iota in the North Atlantic Ocean on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, at 07:11 EST. (NOAA via AP)

If you’re wondering if 2020 will ever end, you’re not alone. It’s been a long year of constant turmoil. 

If you’re like me, you cheered each time another month ended. 

I have seen many memes on social media that echo this sentiment. Here are a couple of my favorites: 

  • I’m waiting up on New Year’s Eve not to welcome the new year, but to make sure this one leaves.
  • 2020 is a unique Leap Year. It has 29 days in February, 300 days in March, and 5 years in April. 

The pandemic and contentious elections haven’t been the only seemingly never-ending storms we are weathering this year. 

There have been more named weather storms this year than any other year in history. 

The thirtieth named storm of the year, Hurricane Iota, made landfall in Nicaragua Monday night as a Category 4 hurricane, wreaking havoc on an area hit by Hurricane Eta only two weeks ago. 

I have friends on the coast of Louisiana who, already rocked by the pandemic, have seen five named storms make landfall this year. 

They are eagerly awaiting the end of the hurricane season on November 30, with no guarantee in this volatile year that it will actually end.

Too many storms to name 

No one anticipated such a busy year for storms. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration initially predicted in May that it would be busy, but only estimated nineteen named storms. 

Then, in August, the prediction was updated to twenty-five, which has already been exceeded. 

And, if you are wondering why the named storms are now going through the Greek alphabet, the National Hurricane Center ran out of the planned names in September, which leads to using Greek letters (Iota is the ninth). 

There has been only one other year in recorded history that the Greek alphabet was used for naming storms: 2005, which saw three of the most intense hurricanes on record in Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. According to Farmer’s Almanac, tropical storms and hurricanes are not given names to make them seem friendlier, but to make them easier to remember. And names are given only if sustained winds exceed thirty-nine mph.

Is an end in sight? 

When storms repeatedly bombard us, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, numb, exhausted, and downcast. 

We are tempted to give in to feelings of despair. 

I believe God understands our hearts. He wants us to ask hard questions. How else can we seek his presence if we aren’t honest with him? 

We see this throughout Scripture. By examining God’s word, we can learn how to redirect our thoughts and change our focus. 

The writer of Psalm 77 asked hard questions of God: “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” (vv. 7–9). 

I have felt like that many times over this year. 

And I’m guessing you have too. 

But in voicing his despair, the psalmist remembered God’s faithfulness: “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph” (vv. 11–15). 

Name your storm to God 

When it feels like there’s no end in sight to the storms and we are tempted to think of the future as more of the same, it’s time to remember, ponder, and meditate. 

Unlike hurricanes, the storms we face on a daily basis don’t have to be large for us to name them when we go to God. 

No storm is too big or too small for him. 

In every storm, he is our refuge, strength, and shelter. 

Psalm 46:1–3 says: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

To know that assurance in the middle of the storms, we have to redirect our focus away from them: “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (vv. 10–11).  

And in Psalm 13, David expressed his hard question: “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (v. 1). With this conclusion: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (vv. 5–6). 

Name your storm to God, then remember his faithfulness. And claim with the writer of Psalm 91: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’” (vv. 1–2).

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