BY DAN KIEHL, Senior Pastor of Oakwood Presbyterian Church
One winter day my family and I were homeward bound on the interstate when we were suddenly assaulted by what they call a “snow squall.” Pavement that had only moments earlier been clear and dry was suddenly snow covered and slippery. The road crews were obviously just as surprised as we were by the suddenness and severity of the storm, because the roads had not been salted at all. I slowed down to a crawl, and “felt” my way along the highway, insecure about the grip of my tires and the exact location of the edges of the road.
This would be a more interesting and exciting story if I could go on to describe a spectacular accident (or near-accident), but I’m thankful to report that the Lord protected us and brought us through the storm with no incidents. But I live a very sheltered life, and this was one of those rare times that I’ve felt such a fear and lack of control over my situation.
I was reminded of that snow squall a few days later as I read the great encounter between our sovereign God and Job the suffering saint in chapters 38 through 42 of the book of Job. Job had lost his possessions, his family, and his health, and, after some strong affirmations of faith, he begins to question God’s justice and goodness because of his prolonged suffering.
After extended silence, finally God appears to Job – from the midst of a “whirlwind!” The Hebrew word means, literally, “storm,” “tempest,” or “hurricane.” I must have read that passage hundreds of times, but I was struck for the first time by the significance of God appearing to Job in the midst of a tornado. It tells us that God is always present in the midst of the “storms” that we face in His wise providence.
Like Job, we want to know the reasons and purposes for the storms that we face – we demand explanations. But God didn’t answer any of Job’s questions or challenges from the whirlwind. He simply reminded Job that He is the one, true, sovereign God who created all things and who rules over all things at all times. We are sinners and we are in no position to demand justice, good health, peace, or prosperity from God.
But what we couldn’t demand the Lord has made available to us as a gift, through the cross of Jesus Christ. When Jesus’ disciples were about to be drowned by the storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus stood with them in the midst of the storm and said, “Peace! Be still!” He is our peace in the midst of the storm, and one day He will come again to end all the chaos and suffering.
So, until then, we face the storms of life by faith, content to know that God is in the midst of the whirlwind, and that He has a purpose for our circumstances, even though our perspective is far too small to comprehend His reasons. As Psalm 46 reminds us, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble… ‘Be still and know that I am God’…The Lord of Hosts is with us…”