A monster snow storm blew into the east coast over the weekend. It has been given the name "Jonas." Like the name Jonah, it means "dove." The root of this name takes divergent paths: (1) "to be weak; gentle" (2) " to oppress; to destroy" I must assume the second meaning was understood when the name was selected, as this storm has been destructive. The snow is 12-24" deep, depending on where you live. The coast has had severe flooding. As I sit on my sofa I look out on my small deck and see a large snow drift up against my door. I am literally snowed in. The high winds combined with the heavy snow have transformed the landscape and will change life's priorities for some time to come.
Like physical storms, the storms of life bring confusion, difficulties, loss, sorrow and pain. In our attempts to understand them it is common for us to return to our default question - "Why?" The Bible addresses this question through a man named Job. His name means "one ever returning to God;" its Hebrew root is "to persecute." This man, described as blameless, upright and God-fearing, (Job 1:1) was struck with one disaster after another. All he owned was taken from him, his children were killed and his health destroyed. His friends tried to tell him that he was being punished for sin in his life, although Job maintained his innocence.
Job cries out, “If only someone would listen to me!...Let the Almighty answer me..." (Job 31:35 - NLT)
God hears him and responds. The NIV Bible tells us this: "Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm." (Job 38:1) Other versions of Scripture say "whirlwind." The prophet Nahum gives us some insight on why Job was answered this way. "He displays His power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath His feet." (Nahum 1:3 - NLT)
The storms of our lives cannot compare to the power and majesty of a Sovereign God. He challenges Job with a series of questions meant to give Job a picture of the Lord's power and wisdom and might. One particular question seems appropriate for the storm of this weekend. "Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail?" (Job 38:36) Another question asks, "Who endowed the heart of wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?" (Job 38:36) God's questions leave Job speechless: "I am unworthy--How can I reply to You?" (Job 40:41) God continues with more questions. In the end Job does reply: "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted...My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen." (Job 42:2, 5)
God entered into Job's life through the storm--a way that gave Job a fresh revelation of Him. God never did answer the "Why" question. Job realized that it is better to know God than to know the answer to his question. "My eyes have seen" has a deeper meaning: My spirit has been enlightened. When we meet the Lord in the midst of the storm nothing else is important. God is still in control and sent His Son Jesus as a Redeemer. Nahum 1:7 nails it: "The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in Him" (NLT)
In her book, A Path Through Suffering, respected author Elisabeth Elliot, who had her own Job experience, gives us this revelation: "We are not given explanations, but to hearts open to receive it, a more precious revelation of the heart of our loving Lord." "We must view our circumstances through His love." Never stop asking the Lord to reveal His deep love for you. It brings peace to the storm.
Joan E. Mathias