When it’s Stormy

The One who “sits enthroned over the flood … gives strength to his people” and “blesses his people with peace” Psalm 29:10-11

I’ve been in several really powerful storms.

One of the most memorable was the storm which devastated our farm in Claridge, Natal, South Africa. The hailstones were the size of tennis balls and punched holes’ right through the corrugated iron roof of our house. They also smashed most of the windows and even stripped the paint off the walls that were exposed to the full brunt of the storm. It was phenomenal! The surrounding countryside looked like it had been passed through a shredder. We were fortunate to only receive property damage. Many of our neighbours didn’t fare as well. More than a thousand people were left homeless. Scores of animals and several people were killed by the hailstones.

On another occasion I was on the sports field coaching the senior rugby team at Treverton College when a sudden gust of wind announced the arrival of a thunderstorm. In no time at all we were drenched and as we were already wet we decided to continue with the practice session. It was a foolish decision. Without warning there was a mighty clap of thunder and a simultaneous blinding flash of lightning that literally sucked the oxygen out of the air as it struck the field. The ground shook and several rugby players were knocked off their feet. The atmosphere, supercharged with static electricity, caused our wet hair to stand on end! We were fortunate no one was killed.

Then there was the time Karen, Christie, Matthew, and my late father-in-law were travelling to Howick, Natal, when a storm hit with such force they were compelled, because of zero visibility, to pull over to what they thought was the side of the road. While stationary they were battered with hailstones that smashed the windscreen and reduced the car to a pitted wreck. Karen recalls how the din of the storm was so severe, she could see, but couldn’t hear the children crying in terror as they clung to each other on the back seat.

I’ve also been caught, on two occasions, in swollen rivers after flash floods. God graciously spared my life. Others have been drowned due to flooding in the aftermath of violent storms. I’ve helped search for the bodies …

It’s against the backdrop of these experiences that I read Psalm 29. Consider David’s poetic description of God’s strength and splendour as seen in a thunderstorm:

“Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones,

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;

the God of glory thunders,

the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.

The voice of the Lord is powerful;

the voice of the Lord is majestic.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;

the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.

He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,

Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.

The voice of the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forest bare.

And in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;

the Lord is enthroned as King forever.

The Lord gives strength to his people;

the Lord blesses his people with peace.”

There’s a practical lesson in this psalm. A reminder that in much the same way as the earth endures thunderstorms, we have to face the storms of life. No one is exempt. There are times when the clouds gather and a storm sweeps in to hammer and shake us. But be encouraged. The One who “sits enthroned over the flood … gives strength to his people” and “blesses his people with peace” Psalm 29:10-11. So don’t be afraid. God’s with you when it’s stormy.

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