How many times over the years have you been gripped by headlines proclaiming disaster after disaster. Back in 2011 when this edition of Ready for the Road Ahead was first printed, the headlines were focused on riots in Cairo Egypt that had raged on for 14 days. Headlines back then also proclaimed clashes in Cambodia, more protesting in Turkey, and ships being raided by pirates in India. Today the world is engaged in dealing with the COVID 19 virus which has inspired hoarding-like shopping, closure of all sorts of public places and the cancellation of numerous businesses, schools and other public events, not to mention the stress it is causing in the healthcare system and the financial world. It seems that the world is a fearful place to live without a shelter to keep us safe in the storm. One glance at the headlines and your mind wants to yell, "Watch out!! Stay inside!!"
No one understood better about how chaotic life could be than the ancient Israelite. Due to its key location on the path of several major trade routes linking 3 continents, Israel was constantly subjected to attacks and turnovers. Not only was their little sliver in the Fertile Crescent valuable for trade, other nations such as Assyria and Egypt, were on a mission to prove that their gods were far more powerful than Yahweh the God of Israel. They viewed their military victories as a reason to proclaim that Yahweh was weak and undependable. As threats for another invasion surfaced it was enough to cause any faithful Israelite to yell, "Watch out!! Don't go outside!!"
This month Jewish people have celebrated the festival of Purim whose story is found in the book of Esther. The Israelites had been conquered by Persia and some people, like Esther, were now in exile. Times were unstable and uncertain. The strange thing about the book of Esther is that God's name is never mentioned. It appears that God is not involved in the story at all. Actually, God is very cleverly disguised within the story, and to the faithful there is no doubt that He is the source of Esther's courage and the reason the Jews prevailed. Sometimes the chaos of the world feels the same way. No matter what continent, no matter what nation or state, strife and turmoil seem to say that God is not involved in our world at all. Times are unstable and uncertain. However, the psalmist encourages us in Psalm 46 that even when mountains shake and the waters roar, God is in the midst of His people acting as an anchor and a source of hope which will see us through the storm safely (Heb. 6:13-20). We may not see it; we may not sense it, but we know God is at work in our story and in our world even though every fiber of our being wants to say, “Watch out!! Don’t go outside!!”
The Sea of Galilee is often depicted as an idyllic body of water surrounded by pleasant hills. However, it is not always that peaceful. Cutting into those rolling hills are gorges called "scarps" and when the wind blows down through the scarps on to the Sea of Galilee it stirs up the water and sailing becomes treacherous. Such a storm is recorded in Luke 8:22-25. This storm was so fierce that even the disciples who were seasoned fishermen feared they were about to die and they called out to Jesus for help. Whether it is a massive wave off the coast of France, a disturbing headline about our chaotic world or a storm upon the Sea of Galilee, there is only one thing to do when a storm of that intensity comes your way. Esther turned to God through fasting and prayer. The disciples turned to Jesus. Rather than succumbing to panic or hiding when life seems out of control, our best recourse is to follow in the footsteps of the psalmist and place our trust in the Lord (Ps. 121) for that is where our help comes from.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre