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  • Writer's picturePastor Taryn Cleaves

Weathering Seasons and Storms

Updated: Jan 4

I've often mused that ever since I moved to Iowa five and a half years ago, I've learned more weather terminology than the previous 32 years living in Tennessee. For example:

  • Thunder Snow

  • Hoar Frost

  • Sundog

  • Derecho

  • Haboob

  • Polar Vortex

Just to name a few.

In every way, Iowa's four seasons are different than what I experienced in Tennessee. Summers in Iowa are gorgeous! The locals say there is humidity, but don't let them fool you, there's only one week usually toward the end of July that is actually hot and humid. Otherwise, each day averages a cool 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit! The Fall season in Iowa feels like what I used to describe as Winter. Temperatures drop to the mid and high 50's. Winters in Iowa are FRIGID to this Tennessee girl. My second Winter in Iowa is when I learned the definition of Polar Vortex: three days in a row with the feels like temperature at -50 degrees. NEGATIVE. FIFTY. It was the first time Iowa ever cancelled school since I had been here. It blew my mind and killed my truck battery dead.

Then, there are the storms that come and go. As flat as Iowa's land is compared to the hills of Tennessee, you'd think we'd be able to largely predict and accurately time any oncoming storm as it heads our way from the West. However, in my neck of the woods, the Quad Cities (on the most Eastern border of the state), sits right where the two wind-streams converge. Sometimes the meteorologist is 90% confident that a blizzard is heading our way....only for it to get sucked up into Chicago or taken down south to St. Louis, leaving only a dusting of snow in our lawns. Other times, with nothing on the radar at all, a derecho has appeared and caused an 8 day power loss at my townhome. The first time I ever heard thundersnow, I was mesmerized. A storm's beauty greatly depends on one's distance in relation to its effects.

What I have learned is that seasons and storms share something in common: they never last forever and eventually end.

What I have learned is that seasons and storms share something in common: they never last forever and eventually end.

While seasons can't be completely scheduled down to the day, there is a natural rhythm to every one of them, regardless of where we live. In Tennessee, Spring usually began in March while in Iowa, March and April can often include one final snowstorm. But I never have to worry that Winter will continue on into June or July.

Storms, however, can come in any season. Sometimes, our best radar tells us that a storm is coming our way and other times, we had no advance warning, we just have to take shelter in the safest place we can find.

There is a parallel here to the seasons and storms of life.

If you're anything like me, you've planned your life largely in the expectation of the seasons rhythm that you've seen modeled. Teen years are for finishing high school. Twenties are for picking a career and graduating college. Thirties are for settling down, a good career and creating a family of your own. Forties are getting your kids through their seasons and hanging in there with little sleep that rivals the days of having a newborn. Sixties are for heading into retirement. Seventies are for enjoying the reward of your self-discipline in savings.

The thing is, I haven't seen anyone's life fall into such neatly planned seasons. And no one's seasons are completely storm free. You could become a widower in your twenties. You could have a stroke in your thirties. You could lose all your savings in your forties. You could wind up with custody of your grandkids in your fifties. All of these storms unplanned for and yet, they are fast and powerful in their ability to change your life on a dime.

There is nothing wrong with planning for the seasons. We are wise to do so. I've learned the value of having a 'winter kit' to place in the backseat of my truck every Winter in Iowa for the occasions that I could find myself stuck in a ditch! However, we can't be so naive that we are never ready to handle an oncoming storm, nor angry when storms appear in our lives.

Storms are largely unplanned and unpleasant. Given enough force they can ruin everything you've worked hard for. The speed at which they can approach can leave you hanging by the hairs of your chinny chin chin.

No other person from the Bible can related to such life-changing storms as Job. In one day, he loses everything--his home, his flocks (livelihood), his children and his physical health. We are told that he simply sits in silence for seven days. Finally, when he is able to find his voice, he hurls questions and accusations at God.

  • I wish I had never been born!

  • The thought of food makes me nauseous

  • What did I do to deserve this God?

  • Please, God....just kill me

  • My friends are so unhelpful! Please show them my innocence!

  • God, ANSWER ME!

Thirty-eight chapters of Job's story is simply the description of Job's three friends telling him why he's wrong and Job responding with both grief and incredulity to their theology. God's silence is deafening to a man who is suffering with unsurmountable grief and loss.

And then, suddenly, we read that "the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind." (38:1) And for the next two chapters, the Lord speaks to Job and peppers him with all kinds of weather questions:

  • Who keeps the ocean in its boundaries?

  • Who created the sun and moon to shine and told them when to shine?

  • Have you ever visited the storehouse of snow or hail?

  • Who creates the rain and created avenues for its run-off?

  • What do you know about dew? Ice? or Frost?

  • Can you make lightening appear with just your voice?

Isn't it interesting that God uses so much weather terminology with Job? We have no idea how much time has actually gone by in these past 38 chapters before God's answer. It doesn't take too long to read but surely it was the equivalent of weeks, months or even years!

Astoundingly, Job answers God:

"I know you can do anything and no one can stop you. I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me. I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance." (42:2-3, 5-6)

For all these chapters, I've been kinda been in Job's corner. I agree with him and all his accusations. It isn't fair. It IS hurtful. Why is God being silent?!

To be even more honest, God's non-answer answer to Job makes me angry. What's up with that? This man just lost EVERYTHING and you pepper him with questions about the weather and the animals and the sun, moon and stars! It doesn't seem sufficient. It doesn't seem comforting. It doesn't seem like enough.

And yet, Job's response puts humility on display for all to see: "You're right God. I don't know everything that You know. I take back everything I said before. I'm sorry. I trust You."

What I'm learning is that while I've been busy planning for all the seasons up ahead, I forget that life promises us storms. And when the storms come and it feels like I lose, my natural instinct is to accuse God of not protecting me, not shielding me, not looking out for me and in general not doing His job from my perspective. I haven't the humility of Job quite yet.

The truth is, God's main concern is my transformation not my protection. Storms transform us. Seasons do not. And when the rain comes, like Job I must learn to say, "Should (I) accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?"

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