Recently here in South Carolina, we experienced Hurricane Matthew. Until hitting Florida, the models had it veering East and missing my part of SC. It didn’t happen that way.
Because we were not in the evacuation zone, we figured we would ride it out at home with not much more than some tropical storm force winds, similar to Hermine from earlier in the season. Again…it didn’t happen that way.
The first part of the storm was not terribly bad for us. We had decided to ride out the storm in my bedroom because it was next to the neighbor’s house, so we thought it would cut the winds down. We also had some very tall southern pines on the other side of the house and I thought it would be safest away from them. We had some strong winds but nothing crazy. Then the eye was over us and it was calm. The calm before the storm, because the worst was yet to come.
The back winds of the storm after the eye passed over us was the worst. I began to hear winds that sounded like it would break some windows. It just got stronger and stronger. You could just hear branches falling and I braced myself and prepared to hear a tree on the other side of the house come crashing down. I was terrified and was wishing we had boarded up windows…but we didn’t have time. The storm didn’t change its course and decide to head right for us until about the last-minute. But we should have prepared for the potential for that to happen. Being northerners, this was our first real experience with a storm like this.
Then my daughter and I heard this sound of something smacking against the house right outside my bedroom. I looked and a big piece of siding had come off and was flapping against the house right by a window. I called my husband in who had gone out into the kitchen and he decided to go just outside the garage and grab the siding off before it did more damage. He did that and came back inside quickly.
About 2 minutes later my daughter and I heard a loud crash. I looked out the window and my neighbor’s tree had fallen in his front yard and landed on my house. I yelled for my husband and my daughter and I ran out of the room. It became clear..the room I thought was going to be the safest wasn’t. My husband looked and saw that the tree fortunately landed on the built-in shed. It was on the house but not affecting any living areas. We decided to ride out the rest of the storm in the hallway away from any windows. I sat on the floor and cried. I was so afraid. I was afraid of what else might happen. The wind sounded like a freight train and I realized this must be what a tornado sounds like.
I prayed. I laid on the floor and prayed and hoped to just fall asleep and wake up when it was over. I prayed for the storm to just end. It didn’t.
When it was all said and done, that was the only damage we had; some missing siding and a tree on the attached shed. The rain hadn’t been terrible where we were so there wasn’t flooding around the house, just a LOT of downed limbs and a tree on top of the house. We never even lost power or cable. I don’t know how that happened but I am grateful for underground power lines. Many others lost power but our street did not.
In the days after the storm we learned about all the damage throughout the Carolinas. The flooding in many areas was very severe. North Carolina just wasn’t prepared for the hit they took, especially after the flooding they experienced in the days prior to the storm.
I thought about my prayers that day. I thought about how all my prayers just didn’t make the storm go away. But we stayed safe. It made me think about how God works in the storms we go through in life. Many times we pray for God to make it go away. And sometimes He does. But many times we need to go through it and if we look back at it we realize how He kept us through it all.
Life is not about avoiding storms or trials. It would be silly for us to think we won’t have them. We WILL have trials. We WILL go through storms. But God will keep us through them all. He will give us the strength we need to endure trials. He will give us peace to get through our bad times. He will show us mercy and grace through it all.
Psalm 91 says “And He will give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways and in their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone”. It doesn’t say He will let you avoid the climb. It says his angels will bear you up.
While I was in the hallway I thought about when Jesus was asleep in the boat and the storm came and tossed the boat and the disciples were afraid. Jesus awoke and rebuked the wind and waves and then rebuked them for not having faith. He rebuked them because even in the midst of the storm with Jesus right there with them, they lost hope. What He was saying in essence was even if this storm was all around you, you had Me with you so what were you afraid of?
I had Him with me. So what was I afraid of?