Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington

Last week another hurricane hit Florida. But it wasn’t just another hurricane. Irma is the most powerful storm to ever come out of the Atlantic. So large, it covered the whole state, coast to coast.

The. Whole. State.

We endured Category 1 winds on the east coast. Dangerous and damaging, but not the Category 4 and 5 originally expected. We boarded up and hunkered down, and escaped with relatively minor damage compared to the Keys, Miami, and the west coast of Florida. Still, Irma did leave problems in her wake. No power, no phones, some flooding. But all in all, most of us emerged fairly intact.

Christian conversations

In a recent conversation, another Christian and I were sharing our respective post-Irma experiences. Both of us were immensely grateful we came through with minimal damage. Both of us have neighbors affected more severely than us.

And then he said it. The phrase that motivated this blog post: “We were spared because God hears the cries of His children.”

I cringed.

Not a Magic Formula

Don’t get me wrong. Yes, God hears the cries of His children. And of course, I had prayed for protection as the hurricane bore down on us. And I am ever so grateful for the protection the Lord provided.

But, as Christians, perhaps it’s time to reconsider saying “we were spared because God hears the cries of His children,” as if it’s a magic formula for protection. Because, while God always hears His children’s cries, He sovereignly answers according to His perfect will and His perfect timing. And how He answers is not always in line with our immediate desires.

Consider the Christians on Islamorada devastated by this storm of storms. Or the Christians in the Caribbean who lost their homes. What about the Christians on Florida’s east and west coasts who experienced flooding and injury? Of course, let’s not forget the Christians in Houston, still reeling from Harvey’s destruction.

Didn’t they all cry out to their heavenly Father for protection? Didn’t He hear the cries of those children?

In a recent post, “Hurricanes, Trust, and the Sovereignty of God,” I noted that the natural consequences of living in a broken world include storms: physical, emotional, and yes, hurricanes. And whether God physically protects us in every storm or not, our relationship with Him remains the same. We are still His children.

Bottom line, He sees the big picture and we do not. He knows the intimacy we will experience with Him in our suffering. He knows the blessing we will be to others in the midst of the worst trials.

Enter Faith

We don’t need faith when life is pleasant and God fulfills all our requests. Faith is the muscle we exercise when our circumstances lure us to despair. Will we say with Job, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15 NAS)? Or will we grumble at God for not responding to our requests for protection, as if He’s a genie in a bottle obligated to meet our demands?

Even worse, to those who don’t share our beliefs we sound like children taunting each other on a playground: “Nyeh, nyeh, God protected us because we’re His children and you’re not.” Yet the Bible tells us, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Mt. 5:45 NAS).

God is SovereignSo, as children of God, by all means pray for protection. Let’s thank Him when we receive it, and continue trusting Him if we don’t.

Share the joy and the intimacy that results from a relationship with the Creator of the universe who tells us to call Him Abba (Papa). Be as salt to increase the thirst of others for that same relationship. Do it when God protects us as we asked and when He allows circumstances we pleaded for Him to prevent.

He may be using those painful circumstances for something better. Drawing us to Him in deeper intimacy. Molding us to be more like Jesus. Making us a bright light in a world that is becoming darker with each passing day.

Still, if He allows those situations, He promises to be with us in them. Will we choose to be content in these undesired circumstances, resting in the assurance that He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)?

And for those not in a restored relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, please don’t hesitate another moment to begin this relationship. Believe Christ died for your sins to restore you to your heavenly Father. Not because He will protect you from every difficult situation. But because this relationship grants a protected eternal future, regardless of what happens in this temporary life.

For now please remember, Christians: God does, indeed, hear the cries of His children. In His sovereignty, He may choose to spare us from some of the consequences of this broken world…or not. But if He doesn’t, it’s because He is fulfilling His best plan for our ultimate good and for His eternal glory.

Have I touched a nerve with this post?
What are your thoughts?

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8 Comments

  1. Rayma Zugel

    Ouch! Yes you did hit a nerve, but a nerve that needed to be hit. I KNOW what you’re saying here, but I don’t always PRACTICE what you’re saying here. Thanks for sharing truth Ava, even when it hurts.

  2. Mary Ann

    Love this, Ava, because it speaks to all whether we’re walking with the Lord or do not know Him. You answered those questions that many have…like “how can a loving God let things like this happen?”; or, “why should I trust a God who allows things like this to happen?”. Your answer is that He hears, He allows things to come into our life both good and bad, and that we’re to trust His will and plan for us through it all because this is our temporary home and He has an eternal perspective in mind for us and to grow stronger in faith thru the good and the bad. Thank you for the reminder that He brings rain and sun on both the righteous and the unrighteousness !!

  3. Ava Pennington

    I also need to practice it, Rayma!

  4. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Mary Ann!

  5. John Williamson

    Much wisdom in this! Thanks, Ava.

    I’m in a men’s Bible study with guys generally older than me. One dealing with sudden onset of profound hearing loss, another whose blood chemistry is headed the wrong way, another facing the start of dialysis, another former All-American football player now struggles to stand, another awaiting medical assessment of probable prostate cancer…

    We are foolish to tie our confidence in God’s love and mercy to the physical outcomes of weather or medical diagnosis. Our confidence in God rests in knowing that our relationship with Him is spiritual and eternal… this body is not our destiny. Otherwise, we are destined to a decline in our esteem of His love as our bodies inevitably fail.

    In my case, I am blessed to witness these men face life and the body’s failings with confidence in God working all things together for their ultimate blessing and His glory.

  6. Geoff watson

    Wow!
    Let me add my thankfulness for your wisdom shared.
    As a man who has been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer I would share that the gospel gives us hope. May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

    I hope you see this comment John and so be encouraged as you walk with others in life’s challenges.

  7. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, Geoff. Yes, we have a hope others can only dream of!

  8. Ava Pennington

    Thank you, John. As you share life with the men in your Bible study, I know you are a blessing as you are blessed!

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