God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. Job 37:5
Monday morning, I awoke wondering whether the little island off Tampa Bay we’ve come to love had survived Irma’s vengeance. My parents fell in love with Anna Maria Island, FL about six years ago after stumbling upon it on Craig’s list. And after visiting them there just once, it claimed my heart as well. A few years ago, we purchased a town home there that has been a place of healing and rest for my parents and others. With Irma’s wrath descending on Florida Sunday, we didn’t know if we’d have a home to go back to.
We’re still waiting on word of the damage. But as we’ve seen a few images in news reports, our hearts praise God for His mercy and grace! That narrow strip of land surrounded by water on all sides didn’t get crushed by the anticipated storm surge.
Others, I know, weren’t so lucky. Images of Harvey’s flooding in Texas haven’t even cleared our screens, and now our eyes fix with horror on the devastating effects of this monster storm, leaving more havoc in its wake. Simultaneously, fires burn in the west.
Our hearts may be tempted to cry out, “Where is God?” We look at this devastation and feel abandoned. I’d like to suggest to you that the presence of these storms proves the opposite.
Look at what Job 37:2-12 teaches about God’s power.
Keep listening to the thunder of his voice and the rumbling that comes from his mouth. Under the whole heaven he lets it go, and his lightning to the corners of the earth. After it his voice roars; he thunders with his majestic voice, and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard. God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. For to the snow he says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour.…
From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.
Scripture leaves many things unexplained, but who controls the weather isn’t one of them.
God alone stirs up storms, beloved. No wave, or wind or raindrop falls except in response to His instruction. Creation knows its Master, and as Jesus proved when He walked the earth, the wind and waves still obey Him.
I realize the idea of God stirring up storms may make some people uncomfortable. After all, we’d rather view God through the lens of His mercy and grace. God sending something so destructive doesn’t seem to fit our preferred view. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
Lamentations 3:38 proclaims this undeniable truth.
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?
To declare God only in control of the good that happens in this world robs Him of His sovereignty. As if an enemy had the power to send a storm against His will while He fixed His gaze elsewhere.
No, dear one. God alone loads the clouds with moisture and sends them turning.
They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.
He tells us why in verse 13.
Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.
Verses 12-13 leave no doubt that God sends storms with purpose. For correction. For His land. And for love.
I can’t help wondering if God’s movement in these storms was inspired by all three. After all, the United States began as His nation—His land—one nation under God. How His heart must break over what we’ve become. A divided nation. With many gods.
Can you recall what filled our news screens before pictures of flood waters took over?
Words like hate, white supremacy, and racism filled every news cycle. Murder unfolded before our eyes, and we watched in horror as a man drove his vehicle at high speeds into a crowd. People everywhere turned on one another, hurling accusations and taking sides.
A divided nation. With many gods.
Then the Most High summoned the wind and the rain to fall on the Texas shore. All eyes fixed on Houston, and the dialog changed. Hatred and supremacy gave way to an outpouring. Generosity exploded in the hearts of this divided nation, uniting us in a common purpose. God’s image surfaced on our news screens as ordinary people made extraordinary rescues, risking their own safety for their fellow man.
Color didn’t matter. Neither did class or income level. Harvey made everyone equal. And a nation began to pray.
Then as an unprecedented storm gathered strength and headed toward our shores, we prayed some more. And the strength of that storm diminished, leaving far less damage than anticipated in many places. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Now the question remains. Will we continue to pray? Will we continue to unite for God’s redemptive purpose? Or will we soon forget, and return to trusting what we build with our own hands?
If nothing else, Harvey and Irma have proven the dangers of trusting in our possessions. They are a false foundation, easily cracked and gone in a breath.
Oh, beloved. God works all things for good. He hasn’t stirred up these storms to punish. He brings correction. His thundering voice calls our eyes heavenward and our hearts to believe.
God once used another storm to chase down a wayward son. Jonah was fleeing His presence and purpose.
But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Jonah 1:4
God seeks correction through storms, dear one. His goal is love.
Let’s not refuse Him.