s long as we live in this world, we will be battered by winds of adversity and affliction. But regardless of the weather, we can have the abiding assurance that Jesus is with us. We may not always sense His presence--sometimes its completely veiled from us. Other times, however, at His own inscrutable choosing, its as tangible as the person next to us.
In remarks at a Takoma Park (Maryland) Adventist church last September, New Orleans pastor Rodney Draggon told about the experience of an Adventist woman during Hurricane Katrina last August. Heres the story (shortened, but with some elements of oral delivery left in):
Trish, whom I baptized with her daughter only last July, decided to ride out the hurricane. Im gonna sit here with my daughter, she said. We gonna get candles, food, a radio, extra batteries; and we gonna camp out in our room.
As the storm descended, she was the only one remaining in her apartment complex, except for a man downstairs. The water got up to the first level of the apartment complex, forcing her neighbor to move to higher ground. The next day, she said, people were looting; and at night they were arguing and doing unspeakable things against other people, especially women and children. And there she was, alone with her daughter. Lord, if you let me live till tomorrow, she prayed that night, Im getting out.
Her car had been flooded, but when she went outside the next day, it started up for her! People would look at the tailpipe and say: Waters coming out your tailpipe! Not regular exhaust, water! She drove it to the other side of the street, praying: Lord, Ive got to get out of here.
She went inside, got her stuff, got into the car with her daughter, and started the car up again. And the car ran. When she got on the ramp to the highway and looked at the gauge, it said empty and the light was on. Now ladies and gentlemen, you dont have to be a mechanic or a rocket scientist to know that if your car gauge says empty and the light is on, that means youre doubly empty. But when she looked at it, the Lord said: If you look again, that means you dont have faith. She said the Lord told her: I got this! You handle your business; I got this.
So she didnt look at the gauge again; went 60 miles on empty with the light on. All the way to Baton Rouge!
In Baton Rouge she got some gas, then drove the car to Houston [259 miles]! Then three days after she got to Houston the car died, cause it was dead anyway. God in His mercy was just keeping it alive while she was traveling.
In every life the storms will come. Sometimes after periods of joy and celebration, sometimes in the midst of festivity and happiness--including (and some may even say especially) Christmas. Sometimes there is warning, other times there is none. But through every dark and stormy time God is there.
In an October update to the Adventist Review, Pastor Draggon (who has been visiting his now scattered members) reported, as follows:
Trish Thomas prayed that the Lord would get her out of New Orleans and change her life, and the Lord has given her a spiritual makeover. She is happy in Houston. Her daughter is doing well there. She is doing great in school. She receives nothing below 95 on her schoolwork. Trish now has a job that she really likes, and things are looking really good for her. She is looking happier and better than ever. The Lord has flushed her life and given her a new one. She is bubbling over and excited about life, and has changed for the better.
Questions for Sharing:
1. What practical strategies have you found helpful in your personal times of storm?
2. How might we minister to others when the winds of adversity bear down upon them?
3. Share an experience in your life in which you felt ministered to during a period of distress.
Roy Adams is an associate editor of the Adventist Review.