Monday, September 11, 2017

Talking about the weather

Talking about the weather is usually a clichéd ice-breaker or the subject of banal small talk with strangers. But the weather that we have witnessed recently on the world stage has captivated earnest conversation on a global scale. Hectic floods, storms, and earthquakes have always peppered our news reports, but the images we have seen this past month have felt more like being pepper sprayed.

Adjectives like Category Five and Eight-Point-O have been introduced into the household vocabulary of our children.

Nepal, China, Houston, Florida, Mexico, and other regions have been commandeered as stages for nature’s raging impromptu performance, like a flash mob of terror. The sinister characters–Harvey and Irma–strut and stomp in their deadly rampages, morphing property into detritus and people into refugees.

The sense of foreboding transcends our common acknowledgment of nature’s power and unpredictability.

While some blame a deadbeat Mother Nature, others blame Trump (see actress Jennifer Lawrence’s diatribe), and of course insurance agencies and Calvinists alike drop the whole debacle into a neat “Act of God” pigeon hole, as if that explains it all.

Lately it seems there is something undeniably unnatural about Mother Nature.

But even in the minds of Christians who cherish the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in all matters under the sun, there might linger an unsettling sense that if God is dispensing judgment he’s doing it with a shotgun instead of a sniper rifle. What about all the faithful disciples of Christ who are being unceremoniously ejected from their homes and cities in the same evacuation gridlock as the rest of mankind?

We understand that Christians are not immune to the suffering that comes from this sin-cursed weather system. But we can take comfort in knowing that we, as God’s children, are privy to more than just common grace. We are subject to the ravages of the Curse and we groan under it along with all creation (Rom 8:23), but we are nonetheless privileged to call on our Father, who holds hurricanes in his hand, to preserve us in a special way.

This is our hope: 1 Timothy 4:10 “...we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

God preserves unbelievers from the full extent of what they deserve in this life while he is preserving us from the same and from all of what we deserve in the next life. This is the good news. Not that we escape the fall-out of earthquakes and hurricanes and floods in this life, but that we completely escape the torrential flood of God’s wrath on judgment day because Jesus bore that justice on himself in the crucifixion.

So, in the midst of the temporal trauma we undergo along with the rest of the world, we can confidently cling to the knowledge that we are special to our God.

The Prophet Malachi paints a beautiful picture of God’s love for us:

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name,” (Mal 3:16).

This huddled mass of holy ones was quivering in fear as they lived through the judgment of God on an apostate Judah. But God heard them. He knew each one’s name. He opened a book of remembrance and inscribed each of their names and promised to spare them as a man spares his son, What a picturesque promise of God’s keen awareness of the plight his precious ones are enduring.

Whatever your view is of the why of these disasters–natural, unnatural, or supernatural– you need to know that eternity is awaiting us all. And Jesus is our only refuge. It is only through his atoning work that we can call upon God as our Savior, and be clutched to his bosom like a boy held fast by his father.

The worldwide Church is in prayer for all people affected by these catastrophes, and especially for believers.

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