Clouds get so thick they obscure the sun. The air becomes heavy with humidity. The wind picks up. Rumbles of thunder come closer and closer. Soon it’s raining hard. Forget your plans and run for safety, as lightning flashes and all manner of debris flies through the air.
Does that sound like a description of what the weather outside can be like? Or does it sometime sound like a metaphor for our lives? The loss of a job, the breakup of an important relationship, the death of a loved one, health issues–don’t these things often seem like a storm, with the ensuing flooding or loss of power or damage from falling trees?
And where is God? It often seems that God is close and comfortable when times are good and the weather is sunny and mild. When the storm clouds loom threateningly over our lives, it often feels like God has gone off and left us alone. But Psalm 104 offers praise to the God “who makes the clouds his chariots, who walks on the wings of the wind” (v. 3, NKJV).
As someone wrote on a concentration camp wall, “I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.” We know the sun continues to pour out its light and life-giving energy on the other side of the storm clouds. We know that the storm will not last and that the sun will eventually shine again.
Why, then, it is so difficult for us to recognize that God, who seems absent, is also on the other side of the clouds–no far off and unconcerned like the sun, but actually riding on them and controlling them? Why is it so hard to remember that even though not all things are good, the ultimate outcome of all things turns out for our benefit?
When we don’t understand what’s happening to us, it’s not because there is no answer to our questions. It’s only because we don’t know the answer. When we feel like God is absent, it’s not because he doesn’t care about us. It’s only because we have momentarily forgotten the love that he demonstrated so clearly on the cross.
The human race has collectively turned its back on God, but God has not given up on us. When it feels like he has is the time for us to cling to faith and seek God all the more. After all, he is very near–as near as the clouds that terrify us. And he is in control, both of the temporary storm and of our eternal and unchanging destiny.