There is ice on the pond this morning and flurries falling on frozen ground. It hasn’t been long since sweeping rains poured into its banks. And just weeks ago yellow daisies soaked up the sun and spread their spores in the wind. The poets whose poems are in the poetry of the Bible found the beauty and force and beautiful forces of nature’s weather to fashion a language of metaphor for God.
They latched on to the images of weather because the forces of nature stir the emotions to such extremes. We say, “Our day is brightened” when we wake up to a sun shinny day. When Spring sprouts its prophecies of flourishing visions of flowering hillsides, our own spirits tag along like new little puppy dogs wagging their tails. It seems like magic! If we didn’t know better we might conclude that the rays penetrate the mind like medicine targets an ailment.
Then when weather pours forth that sweeping force that cleans our scenery with debris, we shutter ourselves inside inferior fortresses. We call forth with language that reveals that we turn our attention to the heavens for answers at the stirring sight of the storm’s destruction and the common anomaly that leaves one home untouched and the house next door smushed. We name these events “acts of god”.
Psalm 29 is one of my favorites. I read it when it rains. God is in the thunder and lightning that shakes the forest and falls the trees. He causes the ground to rumble and a deer’s fright ends her pregnancy with a premature birth.
In Job, a young man named Elihu is moved by an approaching storm. “My heart pounds at this and leaps from my chest” (Job 37:1 CSB). Job is in the shadow of death and despair and shouting at God in his grief (Job 7:19). Elihu, along with Job’s three friends, do not know what to make of it. He is witnessing the storm in Job’s life. He is feeling the storm that is stirring up in is own emotion at what Job’s raw and rancorous praying might mean. As you read his speech, his words give away that the storm is on the horizon. The wind is picking up. The leaf is lifting off its perch. The rodents are scurrying into their tunnels (37:8). A distant thunder rolls over darkening clouds (37:1-5).
The storm is about to crest. First came the disaster and then the deaths. Then Job’s insides erupted into high winds and stormy weather. His friends are scattered and turn their own inner confusion onto Job like humid winds roaring. The dark clouds increase in their density until the sky is black! Hail batters the ground like a drum roll (38:30). Then God’s voice shatters the sound barrier so that no one can not but hear. He covers the earth with his declaration. Like flood waters covering the valley, every word is heard. He colors the world with a luminous script that anyone can scan; and the meaning becomes clear when the clouds finally break (Job 42). Finally, it is Job’s stammering voice that reveals the calligraphy of God.
He prayed, “I know that you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2
Then Job knows what to do. He bows down. Then the comfort comes like a breeze caressing his cheek. It could not come except in the wake of the storm which bleached away the imperfection of his faith. It chases the storm with a sun glaring — primary colors — a new rainbow — round and complete.
James 1:12 (NASB95): Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.