"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Have you lived through any hurricanes? If you were in the Asheville area in 2004, you might remember Hurricane Ivan. Ivan's high winds caused major power outages, and the intense, heavy rainfall led to massive flooding, rockslides, destruction of property, and five lives being lost.
In 1989 I was living in Charlotte when Hurricane Hugo devastated Charleston and then made its way north to the Piedmont of North Carolina. Trees were down everywhere. Roads were blocked. Power was out for weeks. People stood in long lines to buy ice, bottled water, and gasoline for generators. It took a long time to recover from the damage.
The worst natural disaster in our nation's history took place on September 8, 1900 when a category four-plus hurricane slammed into Galveston, Texas. 140 mile-per-hour winds and tidal surges of sixteen feet battered the island city, leaving more than six thousand people dead.
The devastation was horrendous. But in the recovery, the citizens of Galveston made a choice. Rather than give up, they decided to let the hurricane make them stronger. They built a sea wall, three miles long and seventeen feet high, to protect the island. And they actually raised the elevation of the entire city by several feet. The result? When the next hurricane came, there was only minimal damage.
We're all going to face hurricanes in our lives. We don't get to choose which ones or when they strike. But we do get to choose how we respond. We can let the hurricanes destroy us, or we can respond in a way that allows the hurricanes to make us stronger.
One way to do that is to start preparing, now, for the next hurricane. Before it strikes. You can prepare by strengthening your relationship with God. This relationship will become the anchor that holds you steady when the next storm hits.
And when it comes, hold on to the promise in today's Scripture. God is with you in the middle of that storm. And His plans for you are good.
Are you in the midst of a hurricane right now? How could today's Scripture give you the hope you need to get through it? Memorize Jeremiah 29:11--or even just a key phrase from it. Repeat it to yourself throughout the day.
If you are not currently facing a hurricane, then now is the time to prepare for the next one. Ask God to show you what you need to do to strengthen your relationship with Him. How often do you connect with God through prayer, worship, and reflection on Scripture? How often do you connect with God by connecting with His people in a small group? Commit to one step you will take to strengthen your relationship with God.