3 Things on the Theology of Thunderstorms

Under the whole heaven he lets it go,
    and his lightning to the corners of the earth.
After it his voice roars;
    he thunders with his majestic voice,
    and he does not restrain the lightnings when his voice is heard.
God thunders wondrously with his voice;
    he does great things that we cannot comprehend.

Job 37: 3-5

Confession time. I hate thunderstorms. Not because thunderstorms are scary, although I can provide some very compelling and slightly emotional evidence towards this point. But I hate them because thunderstorms remind me of some hard truths. Truths that I, and am sure a lot of us, like to avoid thinking about often. Here are 3 things thunderstorms remind me of:

  1. I am not in control. As humans we tend to spend the entirety of our existence trying to validate and confirm that we are indeed the apex predator of the earth. Mind you that God has already stated in Genesis that not only did He create only humans in His image, but gave us the amazing task of stewarding and dominating His creation. But, true to fallen humanity, we can never fully rest just on the promises of God alone. We take it upon ourselves to confirm for ourselves what God has already confirmed for us. Only when faced with things out of our control do we truly come to terms with the fragility of our humanity. And there seems to be no greater reminder than the elements of the created nature. It’s very humbling when a forecast can change every soccer game, every family reunion, every planned gathering you have without asking your permission. With nature, respect is not given; it is taken. There is no bringing a tornado to court; there are no recorded statistics for conviction rates of thunderstorms. Severe and dangerous weather demand my attention and force me to remind myself how little control over my life I truly have
  2. God is not safe. There is a quote from the classic story The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe where the question was asked if the majestic but mysterious Aslan was safe, the reply to which was “‘Course he isn’t safe? But He is good…”. To call God safe is to say that being in His presence does not affect anything inside or around us. It’s very similar to calling Him tame, domesticated almost. Recently I have been pried open by the Lord and made to see that I have a serious fear of the Lord deficit. To fear the Lord simply means to respect that He is God. Looking around at posts and comments about the God of the Bible, it seems we generally only want to focus on the things that make us comfortable around Him. We love his goodness, adore his love, and profess His grace and mercy. But, this same God who is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love will also not forget the iniquity of generations (Exodus 34:7); He is the same God who swallowed up thousands in the earth down to the abyss at one time for disobedience (Number 16:32); He is the same God who appoints kings and kingdoms as punishment for His people’s rebellion, only to then crush and utterly demolish said established kings and kingdoms later (See the 10 plagues for further investigation). If you need a tad bit more convincing of God’s power and glory, take a peek at the scathing rebuke God gave to Job. In one section he comments on His ability to not only send lightning bolts, but that those same lightning bolts in fact report back to Him just to tell him that they made it (Job 38:34-36). Seems like lightning even understands you text God back when you’ve made it home safely. His voice is like thunder; His glory so radiant that Moses had to hide in the cleft of rock and could only see the back of God when on the mountain with Him (Exodus 33:21-23). Even the mountain become untouchable simply because God chose to put His presence on top of it. Simply put, God is good; He is loving; He is merciful, just and kind. But He is not safe.
  3. God is in control. If this same God thunders and roars and sends lightning bolts at will, then every thunderstorm is under the plan of His sovereignty. Not a bolt of lightning flashes without His permission. Not one decibel of thunder slips through the sky without first asking Him. And even though God is not safe, He can be trusted. When Isaiah stood helpless and fearful before the holiness of a perfect God, God did not leave Him to cower without aid; He purified Isaiah by placing a coal on his lips, showing that God’s intentions were on cleansing Isaiah so he could enjoy the presence of God (Isaiah 6:4-7).For those who are children of God, thunderstorms simultaneously show not only that God is powerful and not to be messed with, but that He is also in complete control of the chaos that wages around us. And thunderstorms are a good time to remind myself of the promises of God: That he is for my good (Romans 8:28), that He sent His Son to save me from ever experiencing the true power of His wrath (Ephesians 2:4-8), that He will sustain and keep me till the end (Jude 24), and that He is my shepherd that takes care of His scared and helpless sheep (Psalm 23)

So, even though the crash of the thunder and streak of lighting may startle me; even though thinking about the chaotic scenery that wages outside my window reminds me how small I truly am, I am reminded that I serve an in-control, not safe, but totally good God.