Amidst the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy, this week was marked by stories of both suffering and survival. Among the devastation and ruins I’ve witnessed determination and resilience, proving Helen Keller’s words to be true:
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
Like many of you, my friends and I have been discussing the storm and its aftermath. Last night, a friend recounted a news story with such spiritual implications it’s gripped me throughout the day. She said that as Hurricane Sandy approached, a cruise ship was forced to go further out to sea and battle waves as high as 35 feet. I think the instinctual question is, “Why wouldn’t they just head to shore?” I’m sure the answer is as simple as ports closing, and going further out to sea was definitely a more viable option when you consider the alternative – the cruise ship being battered by Sandy and forced to run aground.
Yet, I somehow think if I were on that ship, I’d have prayed both for safety and to get back to shore, A.S.A.P! But, the captain knew what he was doing and knew the best and safest place for the ship and its passengers was further out at sea. So often we pray such conflicting prayers, asking God to save our souls but shunning His method of salvation; requesting financial prosperity but refusing to invest sacrificially to build wealth; claiming we want to be a light in darkness but questioning God’s love when we find ourselves in life’s dark places. I wholeheartedly believe this is why Romans 8:26 reminds us “…we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Thank God for taking our confounded foolishness and transforming it into what it ought to be.
This reminds me of questions David Franklin of Let’s Pray Live recently posed on Twitter: “How does God respond to prayer? Do some prayers go unanswered? Or are all prayers answered in some way?” My response was essentially this: ALL prayers are answered in SOME way, we just need to remember that the Holy Spirit’s prayers are better than ours. The Captain Himself is praying for us, and He knows what He’s doing!
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are [God’s] ways higher than your ways and [His] thoughts than your thoughts.”
Mark Batterson pointed out that the farthest observable object in our universe is over 13 BILLION light years away from earth. God is saying THAT’S how disparate His thoughts are from our thoughts. I thank God that when I plead for trials to end, He knows how much further things need to go to perfect His peace in my life. In other words, I THANK GOD I’m not the captain! I thank God that when I beg Him to take me back to shore, He knows what’s best for me is to be further out to sea.