“Sometimes God brings His greatest rains with a storm. Sometimes God brings His greatest blessings with your difficulty.”- Alisa Hope Wagner
The date- Friday, April 21, 1967. The time- 5:30 PM. As my parents drive my home from my appointment with Dr. J. Leonard Maier in their two-tone 1962 American Motors Rambler Classic, the sky turns an ominous jet black. The air is still. My dad backs the car into the driveway, stopping to let me out by the side porch. I barely make it inside when the heavens break loose in a torrent of rain and hail. An F4 tornado (photo taken in Oak Lawn, 2 1/2 miles west of home), with a reported ground speed of 60 mph, passes about four blocks north of our Evergreen Park (IL) home, cutting a 16.2 mile swath of destruction. Thirty-three people die, eighteen in Oak Lawn. It’s all over in a matter of minutes. My parents are safe.
April 21, 1967 was a pleasant, serene day, with temperatures in the 70s. Yet, as the tornado approached Evergreen Park from the west, residents had a mere ten minutes to prepare. Author Max Lucado describes the sudden impact of unexpected, startling adversity-doubtstorms:
“The life that had been so calm is now so stormy. You’re hailstormed by demands. Assailed by doubts. Pummeled by questions. And somewhere in the trauma, you lose your joy. Somewhere in the storm, you lose your song.”
The greatest storms, however, are not in our circumstances, but in our hearts. When doubtstorms are raging, it is hard to hear God whispering on the wind. Pain distorts our point of view. We lose focus. In the Beatitudes, Jesus reminds us: “Blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:5).” Max Lucado notes that the word meek means focused. It’s strength with a direction. Nevertheless, faith cannot be acquired by trying harder, but through attentiveness to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Pastor John Ortberg closes with these words of encouragement:
“Never try to have more faith- just get to know God better. And because God is faithful, the more you know him, the more you trust him.”