Hope through Flame or Flood

But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,

And He who formed you, O Israel:

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by your name; You are Mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,

Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

 Isaiah 43:1-2 NKJV

Houston is recovering from an historic flood, Florida is bracing for possibly the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever, and the Western U.S. is on fire (over 1,200 fires west of the Rockies). Here in Portland, ash has been falling like snow as wildfires consume much of the Columbia Gorge scenic area, a natural wonder that tourists visit from around the world.

TO ARMS: People of God, we must pray. Many voices – including Rev. Billy Graham’s own daughter (Anne Graham Lotz) – have been warning of impending judgment coming to our nation due to America embracing evil and rejecting God.

Thus begins a debate amongst Christians: does God really still judge nations? And if so, can “natural disasters” be instruments of judgment? And if so, is THIS an example of such judgment? Or is it just a natural occurrence of an especially strong hurricane season and historically dry and hot August?

Those are complex questions worthy of thought and prayer, but my point is to help us be certain of what Scripture makes absolutely clear:

  1. God does not change – He’s the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He promises that both nations and individuals will “reap what they have sown,” and we as a nation have sown some seriously bad seed over the past decades (like 50 million+ unborn babies slaughtered since 1973). And Scripture shows us that at times He will use anything from invading armies to “natural disasters” to get a nation’s attention.

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,

And will not at all acquit the wicked.

The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm…

Nahum 1:3

  1. God’s heart is slow to anger, but quick to forgive. He takes no delight in sending calamity or destruction – and when He does, it is with the desire that people would learn, repent, and return to Him.

The Lord is gracious and full of compassion,

Slow to anger and great in mercy.

Psalm 145:8

“I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!”

Ezekiel 33:11

  1. Although God eventually judges evil, He desires to send mercy, not judgment.


“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.

Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

James 2:13

Even in the midst of calamity and storm, God is always seeking to work all things – including the hardest and darkest times – together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28) and for the salvation of all who will call on His name (Ps. 86:5, Rom. 10:12). Already there are literally hundreds of reports of God’s protection and power shown in the Houston flood, of racial unity and harmony as people help one another regardless of skin color or background, and of countless people turning back to Jesus in their time of need (praise God!)

  1. God has appointed His followers to be a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), interceding for His mercy to come to lives, nations, and situations. And He’s appointed you and I to be instruments of mercy in our nation as we see the disaster and destruction affecting our land.

“So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall,

and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land,

that I should not destroy it;

but I found no one.

Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them…”

Ezekiel 22:30

According to this Scripture, God is looking to pour out mercy, to avert the judgment that a nation deserves – but He is looking for those who will “stand in the gap” in the form of praying for mercy.

My friends, it is time for us to take up that holy calling and pray daily for God’s mercy to triumph over judgment in our nation.

Let’s pray for a turning and softening of hearts, for people to feel the weight of their sin and their need for a Savior, for a mighty outpouring of God’s Spirit to spark the greatest revival our nation has ever known.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…

Acts 3:19

Praying for mercy,

Pastor Matthew (Casey) Langston

© Springs of Life Ministries, 2017

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