You would just about have to live under a rock not to be aware of all the devastation of the past few weeks from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Just like hundreds of churches across the country, we have worked hard to help provide relief, resources and funds for the thousands that are suffering from the aftermath of this destruction of mass proportion.
Whether you are there in those flood-ravaged regions, struggling through the aftermath of this weather phenomenon or if you are going through a whole different kind of storm in your own life, the Lord sent me to you today with these written words to remind you of one promise and encourage you with another.
When an extraordinary crisis occurs, a supernatural response is what is required. I find it absolutely amazing and telling that in every storm and every devastating event that occurs such as the recent hurricanes, you will witness incredible acts of humanity, rescues beyond belief and the presence of Jesus through and the response of His people at the lowest points man endures.
One such occasion happened when the Houston flooding was at its worst. It was there that a young Houston pastor, Aric Harding, came into full focus and gained national attention, and this extraordinary act was captured on video. After having returned to his completely flooded out home to grab his children's favorite stuffed animals, in the video you can see Harding enter his home with water up to his thigh, nearly everything lost.
He tells the rest of the story like this, "I grabbed the kids' favorite stuffed animals that we had left behind and a couple of games to keep the kids occupied." But as he walked he sees his piano, and in that moment of utter devastation and destruction he sits down at that piano and begins to play the most beautiful song.
Says Harding, "I think it's all finally sinking in a little. What we used to have going as a city is gone. I really think God is going to do something completely new here. I am excited to see the new beauty in the suffering." Even in the midst of the worst storm, because of his faith in Jesus Christ, he was able to see those circumstances from a completely different perspective. And so should we.
One Critical Reminder
If I had to choose just one sentence from the Bible to cling to in the storms of life, it would be the last words Jesus said before he left this earth, "And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20b). Oh, how we need to be reminded of that precious promise, especially in times like these.
Sometimes we, as leaders, portray to the world that everything is all right all of the time, when sometimes it's not. When I say "we," I am talking to ministers, preachers and leaders. We act like we only need to preach to others but there are times when I have to preach to myself. There are times when I have to fold up my Superman cape, go in a corner, and say, "I'm scared. I don't know. I'm discouraged. I don't have answers. I don't know what's going to happen." In those moments, through the years, I've learned that I have to preach to myself!
Our God has defeated death. He has defeated disease. He has defeated depression. He has defeated hopelessness. He has defeated bondage. He has defeated addiction, and He does have the power!"
There's nothing in your life that is greater than the force that you have in you and with you called Jesus! And He sent me to tell you that "Jesus is with you!"
God Is at the Bottom
So many of the miracles God performed were on mountains and mountain tops, that's true. It was on Mount Sinai that He gave the Ten Commandments. It was on Mount Carmel that He sent fire down for Elijah. It was on Mount Horeb that Moses encountered the burning bush. It was on Mount Nebo that Moses looked across and saw the Promised Land for the first time. And it was on Mount Moriah that God met with Abraham and Isaac, and made a covenant through the blood of the lamb.
There are mountain top experiences and He is certainly He's the God of the high places and the mountain top experiences. But then, right in the middle of Deuteronomy 33 He shifts the focus, and says, "The eternal God is your refuge and underneath you are His everlasting arms" (Deut. 33:27).
Strong's Concordance says, "Underneath" is the Hebrew word kaka, which means "bottom." One translation says, "God is at the bottom." I believe that for many of you, God told me to write and remind you that He is not only a God who is with you when you are on top, but God is with you when you are at the bottom...at your lowest.
You may fall, but you'll never fall through. You may look like you're down, but you'll never go so low in despair, depression, trouble, or in sorrow that He's not there. When you have those days or a season where you are lower than low, if you will remember that He's underneath you and have faith to believe this promise, it will change everything. When you hit rock bottom—when you can't fall any lower—when you can't get down anymore, He is there, ready to restore you and ready to lift you out of that low place and set your feet on solid ground.
On your darkest day, you must remember He is "underneath me." He's not just the God on top; He's the God of the bottom, and He's got you. What a powerful promise. Underneath you are the everlasting arms of God. You may fall, but you'll never fall through!
As I see the devastation of these recent storms, I know that there are no easy fixes and it may take months for life to return to normal. But like that young pastor at the piano, you have to remind yourself that Jesus promised, "I will be with you, even unto the ends of the earth." And you must declare these words, even out loud, "You can take my house, take my car, take my clothes; take everything I've got, but when I hit bottom guess, where I'll be? I'll be right where I started with God, because He's underneath it all! God is at the bottom! And like that young pastor said, "I am excited to see the new beauty in the suffering."
Romans 12:3 says that God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. Here's the thing about faith: Nothing will come in your life that He hasn't given you "the measure of faith" you need to deal with it. Nothing! Nothing catches God by surprise. God never has such a huge crisis hit heaven that He goes into the fetal position, nor does anything that's happening in your life surprise God. When He created you, 'He established your ending from your beginning'. And then "He put in you the measure of faith" to get you from your beginning to your ending.
You have faith for this, my friend, whatever your storm may be in. A mustard seed of faith is all it requires and God will do the rest. He is with you...and He is at the bottom wherever that bottom may be, underneath it all to catch you and turn your ashes to glory. And my God—our God— will be faithful to complete the work He began in you just like it says in that familiar passage in Philippians 3. Extraordinary circumstances require a supernatural response. Have faith, my friend—God is with you.
I leave you with the greatest passage of Scripture for any who call Jesus Lord in their darkest and lowest seasons:
"to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified" (Isa. 61:3).
God is with you, friend, and He is underneath it all especially in the storms of life.
Jentezen Franklin is the pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia; Gwinnett, Georgia, Buford, Georgia, Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Orange County, California. He is a popular conference speaker, and his nationally televised program, Kingdom Connection, is seen weekly on national and international networks. He has written several books, including Believe That You Can, Fear Fighters, and the New York Times best-seller Fasting. Go to jentezenfranklin.org for more info.