Out of the south comes the storm, and out of the north, the cold; From the breath of God, ice is made, and he expanse of the waters is frozen. Also with moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning, and it changes direction, turning around by His guidance, that i may do whatever He commands on the face of the inhabited earth Whether for correction or for His world or for lovingkindness He causes it to happen. Job 37:9-13
When Hurricane Harvey was blasting Texas and its neighbors, and when Hurricane Irma was headed to Florida, my sister-in-law texted me those verses and said "praying".
Indeed we all were. Similar to post 9/11, I sensed a camaraderie among people and a crying out to our God. We were helpless. We cast ourselves on His mercy and His power.
The bulk of the storm has passed. The impact will linger for years - in some cases, permanently. What do these verses have to say to us now?
First, I think, they speak of His omnipotence. Whether or not one adheres to the climate change theory as the cause of devastating weather is not the issue of relevance - the real issue is that God controls the climate...and its changes. He is sovereign. He can direct the storm around us...or right at us.
When we are spared the storm, either literally or figuratively, this is a beautiful truth. We rejoice in it, we proclaim it, and we love it. "God is so good" we exclaim.
But when we are not spared, can we still cling to the truth? When it is hard and painful to embrace it? Is God only good when we get what we want?
Here is he next thing I see in this passage - God is good all the time. All the time. In the path of the storm, outside the storm, and in the aftermath of the storm's destruction, He is good. And He is sovereign. He uses life and nature and circumstances to accomplish His purposes. That may be a hard truth but it is still truth. He can change the direction of the winds and the rain and the lightning - of the physical world and of this life - He controls it, He commands it. Sometimes we like the path of His direction. And sometimes, it is not what we would have chosen, not what we prayed for.
Then we are faced with a choice - will we believe that what He commands to happen is not separate from His love? Will we submit to the truth that He sends storms for reasons, some of which we may like and some we may recoil from? Will we refrain from judging those purposes and those affected by His commands and instead cling to what we know is true?
We can know that all the time He is good. He is merciful. He is loving and faithful. Sometimes He does indeed command the storms for purposes of correction - but let us be so very careful in the conclusions we draw about His correction. Let us not assume those touched by the storm "deserve" it more than those who were spared. Dear God, let us not be guilty of such misplaced arrogance! We all - WE ALL - are unworthy of any drop of His mercy or His kindness. He would be justified in wiping all of us out of history; indeed it is only His divine mercy that keeps us from all being consumed. But because of His great love, He spares us. And He allows us to be spared eternal consumption through Christ. So God forbid that anyone anywhere would ever look at a tragic circumstance and believe those suffering in it deserve it more than those who are not.
So, yes, lastly, He does send storms for correction. But I believe His correction is intended for everyone aware of the storm. Storms are His divine opportunity to depend on Him, to find that His everlasting arms are those of comfort and strength, that He is The Rock on which we are secure, that His truth will withstand all winds and rain. And storms are also His divine opportunity for His people to minister. For the long haul. It is indeed His mercy that sends disaster relief teams, trailer trucks of food and supplies and rebuilders in the months and years to come. It is His mercy, His lovingkindness, that opens up homes to strangers, that strengthens first responders to meet the overwhelming demands for hours, that equips His people for the long lasting domino effect everywhere.
I do not know all of His purposes - nor for whom what is designated. The same storm may accomplish different purposes for different people. But I do know that His purposes are good. Always. And I can see the effects of His goodness - neighbors connecting with neighbors, where before there was no relationship. Strangers helping strangers - regardless of ethnicity or political preference or faith. And everywhere we turn, we see encouragement and assistance and changed priorities. Folks gladly proclaiming that "things" are not as important as people.
Maybe that's God's plan to make America great again - to woo us to Him.