Confession time: I’m terrified of thunderstorms. I’m not just talking about the “crawl into bed with your mom when you’re a kid” terrified…I’m talking about the “I will not move a muscle from under a blanket no matter the time of day” scared. I’m 26-years-old and still jump at loud cracks of thunder and go wide-eyed at a flash of lightning outside of my window. I do not sleep, or touch electronics, or go anywhere near a window during a thunderstorm until I know it’s over. My husband, on the other hand, absolutely loves storms, and will run to the windows or our back deck to watch them whenever they roll through. Since we’ve been married, we’ve developed a pattern for when storms roll through…he gets excited about the weather, I tell him he’s crazy, he laughs at me, and I go back to hiding under my blankets while he enjoys the light show outside. I tell you this fear of storms (and my husband’s love for them) because it shows that we all have mixed reactions to storms. Some love them, some hate them, and some just don’t want to get wet. But, no matter what your reaction may be – I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it doesn’t involve a feeling of peace. In fact, storms are often the opposite of peaceful!
Psalm 29 contains beautiful (and terrifying) imagery of a powerful storm, comparing the voice of the Lord to the water and thunder and lighting. The voice of the Lord is described as powerful and majestic, shaking and roaring and cracking just like the thunder and lightning that we have all seen in one form or another. But, it’s really the last line of the Psalm that grabs me. In the midst of the talk of storms and majesty and power, the Psalmist ends with this: “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace” (verse 11).
We often think of peace in the quiet places – on a beach at sunset, in a sunny backyard while rocking in a hammock, or with time spent alone in nature. Peace is a feeling of calm, of stillness and serenity, and in our world today the feeling is quite elusive. Peace is not often found in the midst of chaos, or in the midst of noise. Storms are not the most peaceful of places; they are wet and messy and scary and powerful. Yet, in Psalm 29, we read both about the power of the Lord and the peace with which He provides His people. Power and peace are not a common pair, and yet, the Lord is both powerful and peaceful, and He shows His followers both strength and peace.
Similar to a thunderstorm, the Lord is also messy and scary and powerful. Our faith is not always the easiest of paths, and at times it can feel like we are trapped in the middle of a spiritual or emotional storm. We are disappointed or let down by those around us, or we pray and pray for something that never happens, and we start to feel the raindrops fall and the roar of thunder in the distance. But it’s in these moments where we need peace the most, and that is exactly what our faith and our God can provide for us.
Because we know that our God is both strong and loving, we know that we can have peace when it seems impossible to find. Because we know that God loves us deeply, we know that He will provide us what we need. Because we know our God is far beyond our understanding, we know that He can be strong and peaceful at the same time – and He can provide us with the peace that we search for. We have both strength and peace in our faith, because we know that the God who sits high above the water and thunder and lightning in our lives is both strong and peaceful.
So, the next time you see a thunderstorm, whether it’s off in the distance or ripping through your backyard, take a moment to peek out the window (or out from under your blanket) and admire the power and the noise – and the peace between the lightning bolts and the cracks of thunder. What a beautiful picture of our great God, who brings us strength and peace when we need it most.