30th September 2011

Help In Time Of Trouble

Samuel before Saul series (1 Samuel 7:10-17) 

But that day the Lord thundered with a loud thunder…”
1 Samuel 7:10 (NIV UK)

God intervenes in unexpected ways.

A thunder storm can be magnificent and frightening. I remember the splendid displays of thunder and lightning over the Highveld in South Africa. They occurred often during our church youth camps and everyone would rush for cover. There would be massive claps of thunder and sudden bolts of lightning streaking through the heavy, dark grey clouds. You thought the sky was about to fall on you, and then torrents of rain washed over everything.

Once, in Kenya, a fellow pastor and I were conducting a Bible study in a small hotel. It was a time of political unrest and, unbeknown to us, a mob had gathered about 50 yards to the left of the hotel gate. Our car was to the right and when we went to return home, the mob saw us and turned on us. They were throwing stones at us as they ran. We rushed toward the waiting vehicle but our assailants were advancing steadily. It looked as if we would not escape. Just as we got into the car there was a deafening thunder roll and hail stones pelted down on the enraged crowd, dispersing them in every direction. A co-incidence?

In I Samuel 7 we read of Samuel’s prayers for the Israelites, and of God’s intervention on their behalf. God has set in motion the randomness of time and chance, and sometimes he breaks into it in order to help us or to get our attention. This is what happened here. The Philistines were marching on the Israelites while Samuel was making his offering of intercession. Then, out of nowhere, “the Lord thundered with loud thunder”, and the terrified Philistines fled in great panic with the men of Israel in pursuit. The Israelites slaughtered the Philistine stragglers as far as a town called Beth Car. It was there that Samuel set up a stone monument to commemorate where the chase ended. “Thus far has the Lord helped us”, he said (7:12).

God’s invention in our lives is not always as dramatic as in I Samuel. Sometimes it is a still small voice prompting our thoughts and actions; sometimes it is an encouraging word from a friend or a stranger; sometimes it is a change in the flow or outcome of events; but, at other times, the Lord thunders with loud thunder! Whatever it is, our God is “an ever-present help in time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Almighty Father, thank you that you listen and that you intervene in our lives. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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