The Lord is a jealous and avenging God;
the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The Lord takes vengeance on his foes
and vents his wrath against his enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger but great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.
He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.
The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it.
Who can withstand his indignation?
Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
the rocks are shattered before him.
The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,
but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh;
he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness.
Whatever they plot against the Lord
he will bring to an end;
trouble will not come a second time.
They will be entangled among thorns
and drunk from their wine;
they will be consumed like dry stubble.
From you, Nineveh, has one come forth
who plots evil against the Lord
and devises wicked plans.
- Nahum 1:2-11
“Blow that layer of dust off the book of Nahum in your Bible and catch a glimpse of the last part of verse three, chapter one: ‘The way of the Lord is in the whirlwind and in the storm’ (Berkeley Version).
“That’s good to remember when you’re caught in a rip-snortin’ Texas frog strangler as I was last week. I reminded myself of God’s presence as the rain-heavy, charcoal-colored clouds were split apart by lightning’s eerie fingers and the air shook with earth-shattering, ear-deafening reports of thunder. Once again the Lord, the God of the heavens, was having His way in the whirlwind and the storm, I thought, as Nahum and I visited together through Weatherford and Cisco and Abilene and Sweetwater.”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch
“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm.”
- William Cowper
Note: I wrote the following post about two weeks ago, maybe when what turned into Laura and Marco were tropical waves in the eastern Atlantic. I had read the Swindoll devotion and thought it appropriate for this time of year. My heart goes out and my prayers go up for all those who lost loved ones or property as a result of storms, of any kind, this year.
I wrote in a Bible Study recently regarding the conclusion of 1 Timothy 6 that we have ignored God’s call to battle. We think that our God of love would never battle, but the battle is against evil and there will be collateral damage, with God protecting His elect.
And this touches another item that could be included in a list of modern false doctrines. I have heard it said constantly that God is Love and could never allow bad things to happen to good people. There are so many errors in that statement. None of us are “good.” Bad things happen to everyone on earth. God is sovereign and if you can only understand it if you think that God allows it to happen instead of being “in” the whirlwind, you seem to be lessening God’s power to prevent it. Either God is sovereign or He is not. God either allows bad things to happen or He is in the whirlwind, lightning, hurricane, and earthquake. The reason may vary, but for believers, we grow closer each time.
Yet, the Scripture states “His WAY” is in those things. Obviously! In creating the world, He created physics, thermodynamics, and the laws of fluid dynamics – thus the science that makes storms. He created the wind and the rain. His “way” is in all things on this earth and in the science that governs all things. We have the “naughty bits,” the brokenness of the world, because Adam and Eve were naughty, and we are born with original sin. The earth is broken and is prone to nasty storms.
But have you ever seen a storm rip through a neighborhood and then hop up and skip one particular home? I remember after hurricane Camille, Biloxi, Mississippi (pronounced Bu-Lux-Eee, not Bu-LOX-Eee, PLEASE!). There was a church in town that was untouched with everything around it leveled. The church was built in the shape of a fish, a symbol of Jesus. The church did not do as well during Katrina.
But in our insistence on attributing limitations regarding God’s attributes, let’s not lose the fact that God is sovereign. God has the power to destroy and the power to restore. He could stop the storm or make the storm stronger. Once we have that straight, then we can decide whether he causes the storm or lets it happen. All that happens comes, in the end, for the good of those who love the Lord. People miss a couple of key words in that sentence structure: 1) “the” good and 2) “those who love the Lord.” Our ultimate “good” is to be with Jesus, and until then, anything that gets us trusting in Jesus more while still here on earth is some “good” in the ultimate direction. Whether the storm wipes out our home or saves our home and levels the rest of the block, ask yourself the following question.
What has this experience taught me? And how can I glorify and praise God, regardless of the circumstances?
And a final word on the latest storms as the aftermath is still being revealed. For a time, it was feared that Marco and Laura might provide a one-two punch to the Gulf of Mexico area. I prayed that Marco would not destroy homes, allowing Laura to come through where people had no shelter. But with God’s sovereign will in evidence, Marco was about to make landfall when the upper level winds shifted. There had been no wind sheer at the upper level, nor was any wind sheer expected. Suddenly, winds at an opposing angle (thus sheering winds) appeared high in the atmosphere, literally cutting the top off Hurricane, then Tropical Storm, the Tropical Depression Marco. Yes, tons of rain fell in Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas, but the prediction of damage due to Marco’s winds and storm surge going through New Orleans was for nothing, other than testing preparedness. What was left of Marco tried to gather strength, but the storm had died. Yet, if Marco had not gathered energy from the coastline of Louisiana, could Laura have gained more strength from hotter water along the coast to build up to a Category 5 storm? Would Laura have taken the same path – just off from Lake Charles, Louisiana enough to miss having record storm surge, as they had in Hurricane Rita. Also, the fifteen mile shift avoided the more heavily populated areas. Was there destruction? Indeed there was, but consider a slightly different approach and more people would have been affected. A much different approach, and Beaumont, TX or Houston, TX or New Orleans, LA could have been hit. Again, if the storm hit your house, this is not much consolation, but I see God’s hand in guiding this storm.
And such storms hitting causes a wide range of reactions, as God tests our faith. Some look into the available television cameras and scream, “We need help!” as if they were unaccustomed, ill-prepared, and had no intention of helping themselves. Others check out their own family and then start helping neighbors, even after losing everything themselves. Some want to sue the power company because they lost power – oh, that was a different storm in a different part of the country. Some bow their heads and ask God for mercy while others shake their fist at the sky.
What is your response as storm clouds form?
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.