Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail... Job 38:22
After a big snowstorm, the jokester might be tempted to answer God’s rhetorical question by saying, “Well, I hadn’t before, but I have now.” I love the idea of God having a giant warehouse somewhere filled with snow or hail, and directing the weather like the manager of a distribution center, with clouds loading and unloading like semis.
More seriously, I love the sheer beauty of snow. I think even people who hate snow have to admit it is beautiful. What’s more, it is the perfect symbol of the righteousness from God, the white blanket of Baptism coming to us and covering over all our sin. Whatever dirt and scars in the ground might lurk beneath the snow, the contours of the snow hide them with perfect purity that sparkles in the light.
Beautiful and theologically suggestive as snow is, though, when a storm starts wreaking havoc with people’s lives we have to go back to God’s answer to Job. Job doesn’t understand what has been going on his life with so much tragedy. He has been demanding that God explain Himself, and God responds by saying that Job couldn’t possibly understand what is going on. Job ought not sit in judgment over God just because “acts of God” so often seem harmful. Job lacks what it takes to even have an informed opinion about what God is doing.
Today we experience some inconveniences due to a major snowfall. Not a record. Not some unprecedented storm. But a lot of snow, to be sure. For us it means appointments rescheduled, work clearing the driveway, school online and games cancelled. That kind of thing. Unusual, but we’re used to it. My daughter Ella is up at Camp Luther and yesterday morning is was -27 air temperature before the wind chill was even factored in. Brr. So you stay inside. That’s cold even for up there, but they’re used to cold up there.
But many places in the country are experiencing life-threatening weather that they aren’t prepared for because it is so rare for them. When we see destructive weather where people are helpless against it we begin to wonder whether God knows what He is doing with His massive warehouse of snow and hail. Why is He pounding helpless people with brutal, unrelenting snow and cold?
Let today be a pause. Let it interrupt your schedule. Acknowledge that you can’t make it to this or that. Let yourself off. In a deeper sense, let yourself off of the need to understand everything. Let God be God. Admire His snow without understanding the whys and wherefores. Help someone. Let someone help you. In doing that we’ll start to see God directing more than the distribution of weather.
In Christ, Pastor Speckhard
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades or loose the cords of Orion?
This summer we’ve been looking at the stars with a scope from our driveway. Amazingly, with a bird scope on a tripod one can see the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. It is a strange experience, actually. Isn’t it interesting that the constellations as we know them are mentioned in the Old Testament? These words, spoken by God to Job, speak to the constancy of the stars. If you can get far enough away from the city’s ambient light, you can look up to the heavens just like Abraham did, and it looks the same. Poets and painters use the stars to represent eternity because they just aren’t subject to the winds of change that govern this world.
But it is also a rhetorical question. God is contrasting his own infinite power and knowledge as the Creator with Job’s powerlessness and ignorance. The implication is that Job can’t do anything to affect the stars, but God can whenever He wants. The stars are not eternal. Like everything else, they exist and keep their assigned places at the pleasure of their maker.
We, like the stars, are God’s creatures. But it wasn’t for the stars that God Himself became incarnate and submitted to death. It was for us. From our perspective in this life, the stars seem eternal and our own lives seem so transient. But the real truth is that the stars aren’t eternal, and your life is guaranteed forever. You will outlive the moon and the stars.
With that in mind- that your real home and citizenship is in an eternal city—the chances and changes of life in this world seem less threatening. Yes, change and decay in all around we see. That isn’t a function of our times, it is a function of time itself in a fallen world. But it is not our ultimate doom. The stars might well look at us and wonder at the fact that we will live forever, long after they are gone.
The little frustrations, the complications, the changes that keep changing, sometimes overwhelm us. But the Gospel gives us peace. Fear not! The God Who can loose the cords of Orion has promised to bring you to Himself. Nothing can change that.
Rev. Peter Speckhard, Senior Pastor at St. Paul's Ev. Lutheran Church, Munster, Indiana