Wrath and Weather
…who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out of the womb?…prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors and said, “Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped. (Job 38)
Playing a game of tag with the waves on the shoreline is great fun. Surfing the high swells (I have been told) is invigorating. And a good wind and rain storm will cleanse the air and lower the temperature, but the consequences of attempting to sail into a hurricane are a reminder that exciting weather is also often fatal. Our relationship with God is inextricably linked to our physical experience. Our bodies have a very limited range of tolerance for temperature and moisture and when we find ourselves outside that range, we suffer, wither, and perish. Which is why we want God to be in charge of the weather.
It is a joyful thing to give God praise and credit for the goodness and glory of creation, but it’s not so easy when the land is washed in flood or parched and dry. Then, we want God to be in control and we want the rivers and seas to stay within their bounds—at least in our neighborhoods.
And perhaps that is why when the weather does not treat us kindly, we pray that it will change while wondering what we have done to invoke God’s anger. Unfortunately, we often forget that the natural world is also one of God’s creatures, and that God does not pit God’s creatures against one another. But, our worlds seem to begin and end on our own doorsteps. So, when we need rain, we pray that God will send it. But we also forget that the rain that falls in one part of the world may well be the result of drought in another. And we forget that contrary to so many of the stories of faith, God does not use the natural world as a weapon. Those stories are a reflection of our fear of chaos and our awareness that life is full of danger. Thinking that God is manipulating the weather may make make us feel better, but it is truly wrong to think that floods, famines, tsunamis and forest fires are punishment from God, especially when we think God is punishing someone else!