My favorite movie of all-time is the old Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart film, The African Queen. The movie is about a righteous missionary (Hepburn) and a hard-living sinner (Bogart) falling in love while making a harrowing journey down a river through the jungles of Africa during the 1st World War. At first, Hepburn and Bogart are in a constant state of conflict, but the grace that each has in adversity softens their hearts toward each other until they come to appreciate each other and then fall in love. But the adversity continues and when all seems lost with the boat hopelessly mired in the mud and Bogart out of his mind with fever, Hepburn gets on her knees and prays for God to receive them into heaven asking that God judge them not on their weakness but on their love. Of course, just then rains come raising the river and lifting them out of the mud. That part always gives me the chills!
We all love sunny days and fair weather while storms and floods seem so threatening to us and we live in either fear or denial of their power to alter lives. But, I’m not really talking about meteorology, these sunny days and storms are metaphors for life. This is important because sometimes God’s help comes in the form of storms, upsets, trials, and the things that we fear including those people with whom we are in conflict (the Humphrey Bogart’s in our lives).
When confronted with adverse conditions do we have the faith to trust that God is present in all things? Do we believe along with Paul that all things work together for good for those who believe? Can we follow the command of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount to love our enemy because God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:44-45) Jesus tells us in verse 44 that loving our enemy and praying for those who persecute us leads to our being children of our Father in heaven. That is because God’s love is poured out, rained down upon all of God’s creation and when we seek reconciliation and blessings upon those we consider evil and enemies, then we are acknowledging that God’s call for salvation through Jesus Christ is offered to all sinners. We are acknowledging that God loves sinners so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to die that they might have life.
Storms, conflicts, and adversity can all be ways that God provides for us to put the grace and love that we have received from God into practice in our lives. Rather than hunkering down during these times shouldn’t we be “first-responders” bringing the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ into the adversity and to those cantankerous, hard-living sinners that God has placed in our lives?