1Glories

Refining Life, on Purpose

Seeking God in Catastrophe and the Stillness After the Storm

Some people are seeking God in the wake of hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and personal Strife. He reveals himself not in the storm, but in the gentle whisper outside of it. If we genuinely are seeking God, we will come to know him as something more than an orchestrator of disaster and ruin.

When bad things happen, people often begin intentionally seeking God. I have thought a lot about that in the context of I Kings as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires are ravaging many lands. And, even as this is happening, citizens of the United States are witnessing extreme political unrest and protests that seem far from compromise or lasting change.

These things are leaving many to ask the question:

Where the heck is God right now?

It’s challenging to see it. However, God is present, displaying his might and power in the midst of disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, wildfires, and more. And, even as his strength is on display, it’s typically not until after the storm that we get to experience the personality of God the father.

We may very well be in that moment. If you’re seeking God in the midst of chaos, this is the opportunity to find and know God. And possibly, it’s a rare chance to chart a better course for our culture.

Where is God in the Midst of the Storms?

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by.”

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. – I Kings 19:11-12 MSG

The “he” in this passage is Elijah, an important, faithful follower of God in the Old Testament. Through the way he went about living, he teaches us about victory, loss and recovery. Specifically, his story teaches that, when we focus attention on worldly noise, we lose focus from the LORD.

Today, we fix our eyes on television and internet feeds as turmoil strikes. Our human curiosities fixate on pictures of destruction and tragedy. Even personal strife can take our eyes from the Lord. Instead of blaming God or looking for him in storms, though, let’s look for the gentle whisper of God, in whom we find reward.

I learned this – to a MUCH lesser extent – when I got a childhood spanking from my neighbor. Up to that point, never had I felt such a strike on my rear. I whimpered away with damp underwear and was – of course – fearful of the man.

Based solely upon that experience, I could have determined he was a monger who beats little kids. However, my experiences in knowing him during the years before and those following said otherwise. My neighbor was a wonderful, caring man who became a grandfather figure and friend.

In a similar way, following the might of God, if we genuinely are seeking God, we will come to know him as something more than an orchestrator of disaster and ruin.  

Defining Moments of a Culture that’s Seeking God

Some people are seeking God in the wake of hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and personal Strife. He reveals himself not in the storm, but in the gentle whisper outside of it. If we genuinely are seeking God, we will come to know him as something more than an orchestrator of disaster and ruin.

Some people are seeking God in the wake of hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires and personal Strife. He reveals himself not in the storm, but in the gentle whisper outside of it. If we genuinely are seeking God, we will come to know him as something more than an orchestrator of disaster and ruin.

Several weeks before I wrote this post, I stood before my church congregation and prayed specifically for new defining moments to impact our youngest generations. I did this because I know how the important moments of my generation formed our values and worldviews (for the record, I am a young GenX born right on the line between GenX and GenY).

I prayed for the impressionable youth whose first real defining moments begin with the September 11th terrorist attacks. They’ve never known life where their country was not involved in some sort of war. Every U.S. presidential election since then has driven a deeper wedge between many Americans. The country has been recovering from economic adversity. And finally, technology is rapidly evolving, ushering new concepts of social normalcy.

Meanwhile, we’ve engaged in political debate on what the national anthem represents, what it means to be male or female, and ethical standards relating to citizenship and immigration.

All of these are important issues, for sure. However, few of them appear to be leading us back to God.

Finding God’s Gentle Whisper

As Elijah learned, hurricanes, earthquakes and fires can be enormously distracting. But, when genuinely seeking God, the gentle whisper that is God the person, we have an opportunity to meet and know him.  Not just the hand that disciplines, but the hand that loves with caring and compassion.

As political rhetoric grew more divisive early in 2017, I was finishing the leading of my Sunday School class through study of the Minor Prophets. I found myself saddened by the complete hopelessness for the people of that era – one in which they did not know Jesus because he had not yet come. Likewise, I’m saddened by the hopelessness for the people of our modern era. That’s because they do not know Jesus – even as they long for his message.

Instead, we continually reject Jesus.

That “noise” has steadily gotten worse, pausing only for a lunar eclipse and responding to the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and perhaps a few more, like Jose and Maria. In the wake, we’ve seen our country come together to bring healing and support.

Truthfully, the cynic in me wants to suggest it will be short-lived. And, even as the awards or late-night talk shows appear to be proving me right, I genuinely pray I am wrong. I pray that the storms will dissipate. And, as mists and fogs clear, we’ll find a new defining moment for our culture.

Indeed, God IS present in catastrophe. Although, it’s not typically the way in which he reveals himself to us. As you’re seeking God, look not to the storm. Look for the gentle whisper that lives outside it.

This is our opportunity to find him. Let’s not waste it.

About Chad Gramling

Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He’s the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.