Praise you in this storm
By Belinda Fox | Wycliffe Today March 2020 |
I’ve faced my fair share of storms in my 10 years of living in Papua, Indonesia. One thing I’ve realised is that there are two ways you can respond to a storm. You can ride it out and then look back and see how God was at work. Or you can cry out to him in the midst of the storm. Praise him in the storm. The choice is ours to make.
In March 2019, Sentani—the town I call home—was ravaged by severe flooding and landslides. Hundreds of lives were lost and thousands of families lost their homes and all their belongings. After two nights of abnormally heavy rain and more on the forecast, we were all wondering how our town could possibly endure any more rain.
As this crisis was taking place, I was in Australia on home assignment. But although I was physically removed from the situation, my heart was fully in Sentani; breaking for my brothers and sisters in their suffering. As I wept and prayed, God brought to my mind the Casting Crowns song ‘Praise you in this storm’.
The song talks about struggling to understand why God hasn’t stepped in to save the day. ‘It’s still raining!’ But through the rain God whispers, ‘I’m with you’. That’s the message God had for the people of Sentani in the midst of their storm—that he was in control and he was with them. I sensed God’s leading to make a video (with Papuan Malay subtitles) using the song and a collection of photos people had taken depicting the devastation of the flood. That video ended up being viewed over 100,000 times. God’s promise of his presence in the storm brought great comfort.
Two of the worst-hit areas of Sentani happened to be right at the foot of two hills—one being the campus of the Hillcrest International School and the other the complex of buildings where our Papuan Malay Bible translation office is located along with other translation teams’ offices. Several thousands of people whose houses were washed away in the villages below these two hills sought refuge at these locations.
In the days that followed, these people experienced the love of Christ in very practical ways. The mission community, along with church, government and local organisations, provided food, shelter, medical care and a listening ear to those who had lost everything. What a beautiful picture of the body of Christ at work.
After the fourth straight night of rain, something truly amazing took place. People began to gather to worship God publicly in these places! Even before the storm was over, they chose to praise God, anchor their hope in him, and trust in him for deliverance.
Knowing God is with us is one thing, but praising him in the hard times is another. The chorus of that Casting Crowns song ends by saying, ‘Though my heart is torn I will praise you in this storm’. May we, like these remarkable Papuan people, learn what it means to praise God in the storms of our lives and cling to his goodness, whatever circumstances we face.