Being a native Floridan, I think there’s something in our genes that causes us to get excited whenever there’s a tropical storm or hurricane nearby. Not that we don’t pray for safety and protection for ourselves and those affected — some of us even go down to the beach and speak to the storm — but it’s simply an atmospheric phenomenon that stirs us up inside.
It’s hard to fully explain the experience of wind, rain, the cooling of the air, and a change in barometric pressure; I imagine there’s a scientific reason behind it all. But watching a roaring ocean and swaying palm trees somehow reminds me of the power and majesty of God — it’s terrifyingly beautiful.
Psalm 92:12 says “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree…” Palm trees have a way of bending easily to strong winds. They may have their tops blown off, but they usually continue to stand against the fury blasting them over. And isn’t it interesting that God uses them as an example of us, the righteous?
Most of us would probably agree we’ve each had our share of squalls and tumultuous winds that have beat us up. We may even be in the midst of an onslaught right now. But God made palm trees to bend and not break. Like them, our roots are to be grounded, standing strong, yet able to sway with the winds of change and circumstances.
Furthermore, this verse says we will flourish. Not only can we bend and not break, but we can genuinely flourish! The saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” isn’t in the Bible, but it’s kinda true. The experiences we gain as the storms in life beat us down are the very things that can strengthen our faith. We accumulate “test”-imonies as we go through tests. And the Word says we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies. (Rev. 12:11)
We Floridians see these storms and the palm trees bowing, and we wait. God is giving us experience, which gives us wisdom and patience for the next time a storm comes around. (James 1:3) It’s not always easy, for sure, but He can bring us peace when chaos is all around us. Bend like a palm tree, my friend. Bend, don’t break.
(Photos taken in Atlantic Beach, FL after Hurricane Ian passed through as a tropical storm.)