Eileen and I drove through some magnificent downpours this afternoon in Virginia. There was intense embedded lightning, and the straight-line winds were howling at times (here’s a pic of the weather system), but I use the word “magnificent” because I’ve always been a weatherman wannabe.
Yes, yes, I know, even my use of the term “weatherman” dates me. But I was the fifth-grader in the 1970s whose idea of a good time was to chronicle the regional atmospheric conditions, complete with hand-drawn maps, for an entire month. I was the ninth-grader whose realized fantasy was to create large-scale freezing rain in my own backyard. Sorry, Mom, for that mishap with the gutters! Weather was (is?) a serious fixation.
I guess I’m rather strange. “Rainy days and Mondays don’t always get me down.” I love the stuff! The darker the clouds, the better. Throw in some hail, and I’m all in! Of course, for maximum enjoyment, I will have to calculate the altitude of the cloud tops. “I love a rainy night.”
But my love for all things weather does not mean that I’ve never been afraid of a storm. Quite to the contrary. In 1988, in the middle of the night, my apartment complex in Raleigh, North Carolina, was struck by a deadly tornado. In fact, a child was killed in a building adjacent to mine. I was shaken to the core, as you might imagine (I’ll also include a few old pics from that November). So I have learned a very healthy respect for what we often call the forces of nature.
Matthew, Mark, and Luke report Jesus’ calming of the storm on the Sea of Galilee. While Jesus slept soundly, the disciples became understandably terrified. All that was needed was a simple “Peace! Be still!” from our faithful Lord. Christ’s rebuke was their release.
But Jesus doesn’t calm every storm, does He? I learned that in 1988, and I’ve relearned it many times since. We serve a God who, for our good and His glory, works providentially in every stormy situation, but that doesn’t answer every question of my heart … when floodwaters swirl … when wildfires rage … when tsunamis invade the shoreline. Whenever I just don’t (can’t) understand.
There simply is no wrapping our minds around some of the suffering of this world, some of which is caused by “nature” itself. There always remains some mystery in the midnight roar of the proverbial freight train (and, yes, in 1988 it sounded just like a train).
Storms far beyond the meteorological threaten to sink us, friends, and particularly to sink our faith. But here’s what I’m slowly learning: it’s not about the storm. Sometimes the storm passes. Sometimes the storm subsides. Sometimes the storm gets worse.
What it’s about is God. I can’t explain the unexplainable, and neither can you. And, sooner or later, the unexplainable is coming into each of our lives. Faith affirms in the storm that God is still good, God is perfectly in control, and God will give us what we really need. Calvary’s Cross is Exhibit A.
“The sun’ll come out tomorrow,” sang Annie. Yes, Annie, here or there.