Today as I sit to write the blog there is a strange sort of glow outside that has not been seen for a few days, called the sun. In Britain we have been battered by ongoing storms for what seems like the whole of the winter period, and apparently today is only a break before the next front hits us with more rain, high winds and the devastation that that can bring. We have seen unprecedented floods, high tides, the destruction that 100 mile per hour winds can do and people left without power and evacuating homes at an alarming rate. It is not unknown to have localised flooding for short periods in certain areas during the winter but no one seems to remember such an ongoing, widespread set of storms that seem to be hitting the whole country over a long period of time. There are those who have been affected and then those who remain dry, safe and warm. Some of these people might even consider themselves blessed. Here in the Valleys we remain fairly dry apart from a few damp patches on the walls, so we can sit back and thank God for protecting us and preserving us in His mercy. Or can we? Has God blessed those of us who have kept dry while not withholding His hand on those that have been made homeless? Should we really be smug and thankful while our neighbours contemplate structural damage and loss of property? Are acts of God really that? Did God send this storm to punish us for our sin, one UKIP politician even blamed the embracing of homosexuality in our Nation? Is God behind the weather that is bringing devastation to so many people? These are questions that I have been thinking about as the storms have prevailed over us. God did promise not to flood the earth again and I have seen many rainbows to prove it, but can I contemplate a God who punishes by killing people by sending wind and rain when all I know is a revelation of the Jesus of love and grace?
Intervention or invention?
Nick Cave once sang in his song ‘Into My Arms’, “I don’t believe in an interventionist God
But I know, darling, that you do.” Is Nick Cave right or is the person he is singing to the one who is right. Is God an interventionist God, particularly in the context I am thinking about here, the weather? Reading the Biblical accounts God seems to be involved in intervening with weather on a regular basis. Noah and the flood, Elijah and the drought and then rain, Gideon and the dew, Jesus calming the storm so the people declare ‘even the winds and rains obey Him.’ These floods of Noah killed people, the drought in Elijah’s day certainly did the same, Jesus saved His disciples from going overboard that day but don’t tell that story to a sailor’s widow who lost her husband at sea. Rees Howell s’ intercession apparently affected the weather during the D-day landings that changed the outcome of the war. These stories, these accounts tell us that God certainly does intervene, sometimes to destroy and at other times to save. Yet I still sometimes have great difficulty in seeing such a destructive God in operation or such a biased God who picks and chooses the one’s He would save. There are probably many believers, sincere in belief and prayer caught up in these floods at the moment where it appears God did not answer their prayers. Was God angry with them, taking our naughtiness out on them, punishing anyone that just so happens to live by the river or sea? I’m sure there are plenty or atheist God haters that He could have picked on instead who are walking around scot free, oblivious to other people’s troubles. Where was God for the one’s that prayed for intervention and why didn’t He act on those who would ridicule and blaspheme Him? These are not easy questions to answer. I am not saying the Biblical accounts may not be real events but the whole issue of whether the God of love and grace who is slow to anger and abounding in love would lose His rag and drown everybody, surely I am not the only person who has difficulty with that. Or the God that sends a famine killing innocent children who just so happen to be born in that country, what sort of God is that? Do I really serve such a God? Can I be impressed by a prophet that causes so much death to a Nation while the rulers he is angry with keep on living? Does God intervene in these circumstances or is this invention of a story to say God is on our side?
Everywhere you go…
I am coming to a place where I am seeing more and more that maybe what we have is just weather. Now that weather may be linked to how we have treated our planet, experts call it global warming but I am not even convinced by that, just there have to be the laws of cause and effect surely. If we do this to the planet then that will begin to happen. That is not God intervening just bad stewardship. But mostly we just get weather. Nigel Stock reminded me of a quote from Gerald Coates, ‘There is God weather, there is demonic weather, but mostly there is just weather weather.’ God did say it would rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, the sun would shine on the righteous and the unrighteous. The weather has never and should never be a gauge to blessing or curse, it is just weather that affects us all. The farmer may pray for rain and the holiday maker for sunshine, but at the end of the day we will just get weather. If it rains while you go camping, as it has done numerous times for me, it is not punishment and a sign of displeasure, just rain. If the sun shines for our day trip it is not because we are righteous, it is just weather. Everywhere we go we will always take the weather with us, good and bad. Does God intervene with the weather patterns? I am getting more and more convinced that He doesn’t, but I am not counting it out. I just more and more see things as they are, just weather. I cannot see God behind a drought in Somalia or an earthquake in the Philippines because my God is not that cruel. Can He stop them or intervene or is this just the planet crying out, the building of homes in wrong places, just weather happening which has resulted from many factors. I will never pretend to have all the answers, but now as the ray of sunshine turns to rain outside I wonder is that a sign of God’s displeasure that I ask such questions, or is it just weather that will never go away?