When we gather together to worship God our hearts are directed toward Him and away from ourselves. While we come there to find peace, not every moment in His presence is equally peaceful. Some of the things that we hear from His Word are supposed to make us tremble. This is also true of life. There is a difference between our experience of a broad meadow on a day of gentle sunshine and the feelings we have in that same place when the thunder and lightning of God are all around us.
Job has heard the thunder of God. Destruction came down from heaven upon his household. When lightning strikes so close it may take some time to recover from the shock. We then look around to see if anyone was hurt. When we are able to feel the magnitude of the loss, that is our focus for some time. Eventually we may be capable of thinking about the Power who gives life and who takes it away. Our eyes one day focus less on ourselves, and we find a more glorious sight to behold as we tremble before God.
This trembling before the Lord’s majesty in worship and in life can be accompanied by a simultaneous awareness of the goodness of God and of His amazing ability to work out His purposes through things that are very evil. Wickedness and trouble are everywhere. We can look at the distressing actions of people in bringing harm to others, or we can consider the forces of nature at work in a powerful storm, and we must insist that oppression and overwhelming winds of death are not good in their essential nature. Yet we know that God is sovereign over everything and He is good. He thunders wondrously with His voice. He does great things that we cannot comprehend. To embrace this truth is to move toward health. When we allow ourselves to think about something beyond the damage brought about by the storm, we can consider the One who has the power behind even the worst tragedy.
Lightning can seem to fill the entire sky. The thunder that swiftly follows may be too much for our ears to take. We run for shelter along with every wild beast. God can bring a whirlwind or a river of ice from the sky that brings down the trees of the field. Do we imagine that these events have nothing to do with the Almighty, that they are simply the result of natural forces without any divine purpose? How then will we ever find peace when we see that our loved ones have lost their lives in that storm? Was God unaware? If the Lord is the Almighty God of heaven and earth, He must be the One in charge of life and death. The storm is not God. The Lord is God over the storm. Look at Him. Consider His power and His greatness. Tremble before Him, and eventually find peace in Him. We do not know all that He is doing in the storm. We cannot understand whether He is correcting His people, or whether the worst loss we experience is a secret design for the securing of some everlasting mercy. But we know Him, and we know that He commands the storm. Otherwise the storm is more of a God than the Lord, and all is lost.
God has come to us from on high in Jesus Christ. He knew that the most significant problem in this world was in us, and so He became Man to save humanity. The solution was not a secret fix to some technical glitch. It came in the Lord’s perfect provision of all the holy righteousness required by His Father. There was one other requirement for the full realization of the repair to heaven and earth: The perfect Son of God needed to die in our place. This was the only way to quiet the mighty thunder of God that was against us for our sin. This was the only solution that would allow us to find life beyond the folly that has been bound up within the troubled hearts of all of Adam’s descendants. God’s answer for this troubled world is very different than the repairs that even the wisest and holiest people imagine in their own conceit. The resurrection of Jesus assures us that the solution of the cross of Christ truly worked. Let us gather together then with both trembling and joy, and let us worship God through Jesus Christ together with heaven’s glorious host.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Sovereign Lord, You thunder wondrously with Your voice. You do great things that we cannot comprehend. We see Your grandeur in the heavens over many days as the seasons change. We know Your majesty in a different way when You roar from above with a sudden storm. You rule over the changing landscape of the hearts and minds of men. We have seasons of life that come upon us slowly. We also face unexpected troubles that seize us in a moment. There is nothing in all of the events of men and angels that is beyond Your authority. We bow before You in the day of gentle showers. We must think of You as well when the skies suddenly burst forth with violent thunder. You reign over us. You call Your weary children home at a time that is in accord with Your holy decree. You give and You take away. We live and we die. Blessed be Your Name.