Like so many, over the past few days, we have been keeping a steady eye on the unfolding events of Hurricane Ian.
Florida holds a special place in my heart, as it was my first home in the United States, and in the hearts of some of our staff members as a place where they have taken many family vacations over the years. To see the destruction that has been caused (and is still being caused) is truly heartbreaking.
We are seeing bridges collapse, flooding of homes, many with no home to return to, continued power outages, and no internet or phone service in many parts of Florida. Some areas in Florida have seen flooding of up to 10 feet high. Cars are underwater, boats have been run aground or sunk, and planes have been destroyed all by one storm.
Hurricane Ian hit the western coast of Florida on Wednesday as a category 4 hurricane with maximum, sustained winds at 155 mph. Places such as Clearwater, Tampa, Sarasota, and Fort Myers Beach have experienced some extreme weather. They are now predicting Ian to hit the South Carolina coast as well.
Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that the “amount of water that’s been rising and will likely continue to rise today, even as the storm is passing, is basically a 500-year flood event.” Damage reports and rescue attempts continue on in the wake of such devastation.
And yet, even in such dire circumstances, we are not without hope.
Sara Jewell (one of our authors who lives in the Florida area) after checking in, pointed us to the song Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson which says
in the chorus, “In the eye of the storm, You remain in control. In the middle of the war, You guard my soul.
You alone are the anchor when my sails are torn. Your love surrounds me in the eye of the storm.” These
words can bring us comfort and peace. Jesus did not promise that we would never go through trials or hardships in life, but He did promise that when we do, He will be right there beside us.
If you would like to support Sara as her community (Naples, FL) rebuilds, please consider purchasing a copy of her book for yourself or a loved one, especially as her in-person opportunities are now limited.
So, what now? What do we do in the wake of such damage and devastation?
Children’s author Tina Hebert shows how a community can rebuild and come together after a storm in her book Rebuilding the Cajun Way. Many children who have experienced a natural disaster are left in a state of misunderstanding and confusion.
Rebuilding the Cajun Way offers an opportunity for children to be enlightened and taught how important it is to keep a positive outlook in the midst of the struggle.
Although the setting is in Louisiana, this book is for any child who has experienced a natural disaster.
The story follows three little Cajun animals as they plan and host a party for their friends that will have all of their favorite food and music. Their plan takes a devastating turn when a storm comes along, and they are forced to deal with the circumstances. They face many struggles, are forced to adopt new attitudes and
outlooks, and are able to experience many victories by the positive choices they make.
Below is a brief expert from the story.
When they awakened the next morning, a mess was what they found! Branches, logs, and neighbors’ things
had floated all around. They sought shelter for those in need and helped as many as they could… cooking… cleaning… even Jacques did all that he could!
Together they rebuilt, and things were even better than before. They learned more about one another and valued each other more.
We certainly hope and pray that these words ring true to all of those affected by Hurricane Ian– that each community is made stronger than ever before.
After devastation such as this, we are familiar with the tempest and all of the trials and
hardships that it brings and carries along with it, but do we also know the One who calms the storm?
Faythelma Bechtel focuses on how we can find truth and comfort, even in the midst of the storm, in her devotional Finding Truth in the Tempest. We may be asking “why?” or simply struggling when life doesn’t make sense, but even in these moments, God’s Word is always sufficient to answer our questions.
There is no sequence or special order for trials and afflictions in life. Challenges may slip in through the open window or crash in through the roof when you least expect them. While you are focusing mostly on hard things in life, never forget to search for and acknowledge the blessings God sends along with His
teaching, training, and stretching exercises. God’s goal is to conform [us] into His image that we might live for the praise of His glory.
Why the tempest? There are many reasons for a tempest to arise. When my will clashes with God’s will, it is like the hot and cold air colliding and creating a storm. At other times, there seems to be no possible reason for the tempest other than a lesson of trusting in the Lord. But always, there is some lovely gem to be extracted from every tempest.
A tempest has many ways of building character and developing Christian graces. But we humans do not like the tempest. A tempest brings fear, insecurity, dismay, and disappointment. The disciplines of the Christian life are often difficult, and I prefer to have problems that work out easily, painlessly, and quickly. But I must remember, God is more concerned about my character than my comfort.”
Whenever you feel confused, hopeless, irritated, or like the battle is lost, be assured that your focus is on the battle and your inability to handle it, on the pain, and on the temporal present. It is a must that you refocus! Focus on God, His power and love, and the eternal future. Refocus by reading and digesting the truths of His character. Get a fresh view of who God is and move ahead in faith.
As many seek to move ahead and rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Ian, I pray that God will grant strength to those who are weak, that He would give peace to those who are troubled, and that He will provide for those who have experienced loss, that He would comfort those who mourn, that He would bring healing to those who are hurting and broken, and that He would give hope to those who are feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, or defeated. May we all continue to show love to those around us and do what we can to help those who have
been affected by this storm.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. – PSALM 46:1-2
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. – PSALM 91:2
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. – ISAIAH 43:2
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But
take heart! I have overcome the world. – JOHN 16:33
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. – JOSHUA 1:9
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. – 2 THESSALONIANS 3:16
As a Christian publishing house, we are once again reminded of our mission to encourage and point all to Christ through our books.
We would be honored and encouraged if you would browse our books for the purpose of encouraging your heart, another’s, or perhaps supporting an author who is suffering the impacts of Ian.
With eyes fixed on him,
Samuel Lowry, Publisher, Ambassador International