By Elizabeth Head Black
I stood, peering out the window into the sky, blackened by an angry storm. I watched as the tempest tormented and raged, intimidating the landscape with its strength. Like a tawdry wrestler, it bent trees into ungainly positions and thrust them back against a set of unseen ropes shaking them to the core. Then, for dramatic effect, it spit on them with a driving rain forceful enough to break the backs of some. With the potential to twist and turn everything upside down, the storm unleashed its fury. I folded my arms across my chest as I watched in silence, observing every threat and tactic. When I felt I had seen its worst, I had something to say to the storm:
I am not afraid of you!
“Why are you not afraid?” said the storm. “Have you not heard how dangerous and treacherous I am?”
You are indeed something to be reckoned with. I have never endured anything like you.
“Why are you not afraid of the winds, that bend trees to the touch the ground?”
God rides on the wings of the wind. (Ps. 104:4)
“And what about the driving rains? And the encroaching floods? Aren’t you afraid they will overtake you?”
No. I believe he is the God of glory who thunders over the mighty waters, who sits enthroned over the flood (Ps. 29:3). He is the Lord over all creation, even you, Tempest.
But even if I am overtaken, I believe God’s promise: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isa. 43:2-3)
“But what about your house and all that you own? Aren’t you afraid something could happen to them?”
In the day of trouble, “He will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” (Ps. 27:5)
So the storm was quiet for a while, as was I.
“What do you do so quietly and intently in there?” said the Storm.
I am praying.
That Jesus would rebuke the winds and the waves. I pray that he would say, “Quiet! Be still!” as he has done before. (Mark 4:35-41)
“Your prayer was not answered. I still rage outside.”
But you do not rage inside of me. Jesus has answered my prayer.
“I think you underestimate my power.”
Perhaps. I admit, I marvel at the force of nature, but not in and of itself. You are only a facet of God’s creation acting in accord with the laws of nature he set in place. I am in awe of the God who created all the elements of nature and is still more powerful than what I see or can imagine. (Eph. 1:19, 4:20)
More than that, I know that God uses his power for good, to sustain all things. He holds everything together. (Col. 1:16-17, Heb. 1:3)
God uses that same power to fulfill every promise he ever made. (Rom. 4:21)
God’s power is greater that what I can now see, what you throw at me, or what I imagine to come. It is the kind of power that can save us, and bring us back to life (Rom. 1:16).
No, I am not afraid of you.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39)
After that, the storm was quiet for a while. And so was I.
Throughout the night I listened as it tried to regain its pride, mustering its strength for another arm hold. Then I fell asleep. (Luke 8:23)
Elizabeth Head Black lives in Corpus Christi, Texas, where her husband, Milton, is rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd. She is the author of Hand in Hand: Walking with the Psalms through Loneliness (Radiant Star Books, 2015), and blogs at The Daily Bread.
I am reminded of Fleming Rutledge’s sermon, “The God of Hurricanes,” found in her book of Old Testament sermons.
Also, the hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way,” with its lines, “He plants his footsteps in the sea/And rides upon the storm,” was brought to mind by the reference to Psalm 29.