In the storm and the ‘funder,’ God is there

Categorized as 06/13/11 Goshen News column

With a crash and a bang and bright flashes of light, it was a loud thunderstorm that rolled overhead late into the night. The next morning, he brought it up. Getting ready to go to work with Daddy, Little said it. “Did you hear that ‘funder’ last night?” Yes, Daddy said. He’d heard it.

“Did it scare you?” This to Little.


“Did you talk to Jesus about it?”

Yes, he said. He’d talked to Jesus about it, and He’d made that scary old ‘funder’ go away. Then, as if suddenly realizing that his prayers had been answered, this VSPF (Very Small Person of Faith) exclaimed, “I should write Jesus an email!”

Driving home that morning, I asked him about it. “I have a question. Did you talk to Jesus last night when you were scared of the thunder?”

“Yes. And it was shining. I didn’t like the shine (this reference, of course, to the brilliant flashes of lightning).” He said it again: “Jesus made the ‘funder’ go away. He made it go to sleep.”

This little incident occurred back in March. I thought of it again recently when news of the killer tornadoes flashed over the wires. They’d struck the nation’s heartland with particular ferocity.

Images coming from the ravaged plains were devastating. Aerial footage of the Oklahoma storm clearly showed the path it had taken. There it was – an angry red slash ripping across fields and farms, houses and lives, tearing, destroying.

In Joplin, it looked like war. Everywhere, brokenness littered the landscape. Businesses, schools, churches, neighborhoods, homes, a hospital, crushed like toothpicks and flung into great piles, burying at once the hopes and dreams – the very lives of its citizens.

The stories that came – who could bear it? Stories of children ripped from their parents’ arms. Of a father crying, “He was my little buddy.” Of a high school senior, tassels freshly turned, torn from a vehicle as his terrified father clung. Of the unfathomable violence of a storm that pulled flesh and blood from such paternal love, dropping it heedlessly into a nearby pond.

Where is God? Oh, where is He when the very earth shakes beneath our feet, when the flood waters rise, and when the world breaks apart in a moment? Where is He when every outward sign shouts, “You’ve been left on your own. It’s all a cosmic joke. There’s no rhyme or reason, and no one’s in control.”

Anguished hearts demand an answer. Why us? Why now? Why here and not there? Why? Why? Why?

Perhaps the answer lies in His name. “For He shall be called Emmanuel.” God with us.

God with us. Yes! God is with us.

“If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in hell, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me and Your right hand will hold me fast.” That’s how the Psalmist put it. And on that rock, we set our feet.

When everything known and certain crumbles, when darkness descends and the heavens rend, flashing fire and crashing thunder, He is there. The restless questions linger, splinters of the cross we bear in a fallen world. The God of the universe seldom offers explanation, but He offers Himself with all His strength, His provision, His joy, and His presence. And that, for now, is enough.

When we know with surety that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble,” we can proclaim with the Psalmist that “therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake.”

I don’t know what storm you are facing today, my friend, but I do know this – in the midst of it all, He is there. He hears your faintest cry and will move heaven and earth to come to your aid. Hang on, then, for the One Who makes the ‘funder’ sleep is coming.

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