When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid?” Mark 4:39–40
Flash Flood in Big Thompson Canyon, 1977. Tsunami in Japan, 2011. Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, 2005. If anyone had stopped those water/weather/flood catastrophes people would have been more fearful than ever. It should be noted that is exactly the response of Jesus’ disciples in the boat after he stilled the storm on the Sea of Galilee: fear-filled awe and wonderment.
I note two things about God’s presence and protection in the midst of disaster. He promises to be with us through it all. And he offers a promise of protection that is understood only by faith. I’m not certain which is more difficult to believe or understand: God’s presence in the midst of disaster, or God’s deliverance from disaster.
There is some resolution in my mind in that Jesus did directly and boldly prevent the waters from overwhelming the disciples. God did protect the three men in the fiery furnace during the time of Daniel. God had protected Noah and his family from the flood. But people died in the tsunami – at least some of whom certainly were Christians. The same is true in New Orleans, or Big Thompson Canyon. How are these to be saved?
In the end those who trust in Jesus Christ will be delivered from the ultimate destruction of death and hell. That promise is open to all people. Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world. Anyone can claim his redemption and salvation. I may not understand the hows and whys of God’s deliverance this side of eternity, but I believe God’s gift of eternal life will preserve me forever.