I was introduced this week to the story of Roy Sullivan. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, he is the person on the planet who survived the most lightning strikes. Roy was hit by lightning seven times. He suffered injuries of several kinds as one bolt of lightning after another passed through him over a thirty-five-year period. It is beyond my comprehension that this one man took so much over his lifetime.

According to the report that I read, these repeated strikes started to take a toll on him. He became convinced that nature had it out for him. These individual events were as close together as a year, and as far apart as a couple of decades. Roy was a park ranger in a part of the country where thunderstorms are common so that set of circumstances made his experience more likely. But seven times?

He made a few bad choices in the process when he left the relative safety of a shelter and a vehicle during a storm. But still, the man took seven hits from lightning bolts. Yet he seems to have missed the reaction that most everyone else has to his story. Most folks say, “He’s lucky to be alive.”  Roy’s conviction that he was being “targeted” by nature for torment or destruction led him to despair. After all, you can’t escape nature.

Roy never saw that compared to other people sharing the planet with him he was very special. Not just for this weird phenomenon but for having survived. Roy seems to have been protected. You could argue that nature may have had something out for him, but God was intervening to protect him. Roy could have come to feel invincible.

One night on the Sea of Galilee Jesus was sleeping through a storm that left the disciples afraid for their lives. After they shook Him awake, they asked the question, “… do you not care that we are about to die?” After He stood and calmed the storm he asked, “Why were you so afraid?” Where is your faith in Me? I have wondered if that ride would have been recorded as wild and fun instead of a near-death experience?

Imagine an exultant Roy Sullivan standing before audiences of people telling his story of survival. Perhaps thanking God for His obvious and repeated interventions. How excited he might have been. Seeking to understand what God saved him for.

I am in no way trying to dismiss anyone’s pain. But I am praying that you do not lose hope. I am asking you to lean on Jesus so you can get to the other side of it, and that you find in the Word of God and the testimony of the faithful believers around you examples of people who have grown strong because of their trials.

May God hold you up when you cannot stand and calm the storm to restore your balance.