The pressures of the financial tsunami have hit millions of people in South Florida, the nation, and abroad. For many, regular paychecks, rainy-day savings accounts and investments have been washed up due to the wave of job cuts, furloughs and the elimination of benefits.
Many are wondering: How am I going to pay my mortgage, monthly car payments, credit card bills, and school loans? How are my family members going to receive adequate medical care when I no longer have health insurance? How can we navigate through the storm and survive?
The answer is unveiled in Acts 16:16-26, where the Apostle Paul and Silas were in the midst of a brutal storm in Philippi. They were falsely accused of teaching against Roman law. As a result, they were stripped, beaten, and thrown into prison, facing possible death sentences.
Instead of being despondent and depressed about their seemingly hopeless situation, Paul and Silas provided a blueprint for surviving any severe storm: prayer and praise to God.
The Bible says in Acts 16:25-26, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.”
First, like the continuous movement of a windshield wiper, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, recognizing that only God could deliver them from the situation.
Second, Paul and Silas worshiped God together. In times of adversity, our natural tendency is to isolate ourselves. But God is calling us to lovingly support one another in prayer, fellowship and action.
Third, when the weather conditions were out of control, the prisoners witnessed the unshakeable faith of Paul and Silas. Our lives are the only Bible that some people will ever read. How does your life read in the storm?
Finally, for Paul and Silas, prayer and praise directed toward God shook the prison doors open and led to their miraculous deliverance. It is important to note, however, that Paul was imprisoned other times without a miracle.
What happens when the earthquake doesn’t come? What happens if you do not receive the financial miracle that you need? God may not deliver you from your circumstance, but He will enable you to go through it. God will never leave or forsake you. His grace is sufficient.
British Poet George Herbert once said, “Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.”
Allow the storms which are temporary to deepen your relationship with God. Pray and read the Bible for wisdom, direction, comfort and strength. Embrace your storms as opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. This is a time when we will see who truly walks by faith and not by sight.
As a community of faith, let us come together to help our brothers and sisters in need. Because these are challenging times, so many people are reluctant to help. Those with much should ask themselves if they are doing all they can to help those around them who are less fortunate. If you are unable to share the Benjamins, you can always come together to pray and encourage someone with the Word of God.
When the storm comes, will you be like a leaf that flies in the air without a destination? Will you be like a snowflake that melts away when the blazing hot sun shines? Or, will you be like a palm tree that may bend in a storm, but later straightens up, and grows taller and stronger?
Storms come and go. Give God praise in the storm, for there is definitely a rainbow at the end.
The Rev. Yolanda Sampson received her Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, a B.A. in Communications from Howard University, and a lay ministry certificate from Dr. Cindy Trimm's Kingdom University.