As I reflect on Hurricane Sandy’s charge into and across the Eastern part of America, I am reminded about the Lord’s promise in Habakkuk to give us what we need, to get us where we need to be. The prophet Habakkuk wrote a song about this spiritual truth in chapter 3 of the book in the bible that bears his name. He describes God’s provision like being given deer or mountain goat feet.
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” -Habakkuk 3:19
I watched a mountain goat traverse dangerous hillsides this summer while hiking up in Northern Idaho around Priest lake. Habakkuk wanders lyrically through some devastating moments in history where the events smash together like a hurricane’s ominous assault and devastation, and yet, he is confident that God will get us through it all. While reading these verses, I couldn’t help but feel like he was standing like one of those reporters on the east coast describing the terror before and after the storm.
“The mountains watched and trembled. Onward swept the raging waters. The mighty deep cried out, lifting its hands to the Lord.” -Habakkuk 3:10
In the gospel’s there are a number of stories that combine Jesus with storms, water and fear (Matt 8, Mark 6). I find deep comfort that terror is mentioned in the gospels and in Habakkuk. I am not sure I could truly trust the bible as a message from God to me about the realities of human experience, if God wasn’t found in life threatening, terrifying storm stories.
“I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror.” -Habakkuk 3:10
The prophet does what so many writers and commentators are afraid to do today, he plunges deep into the theological and prophetic responses that arise when our ideas about God and the drama and trauma of life collide. Habakkuk doesn’t spiritualize away the tension and terror, he doesn’t shy away from issues of judgment and promise and the confusion that is born when we suffer. He doesn’t remove God from the storm, but puts Him before it, within it and after it.
Like in the gospel’s we often find God apparently asleep while destruction looms or we are gripped with fear when we see struggle with trying to deal with God and Storm together. Like the disciples I sometimes wonder if it’s a ghost or God. Am I seeing things that are not there or is God truly walking on the tumults of time?
Many storms hit the shoreline, do their damage and blow through leaving the struggle of death and debris in their wake, wrestling to find God in aftermath.
This morning, I used Habakkuk’s song as my own cathartic meditation, I spoke his words as my words. In a small way I trembled, quivered, gave way and shook with terror and I worshipped in light of the promise that God would give us all what we need to get where we need to be through it all.
Such is my prayer for my fellow Americans as they move from the chaos to the calm on the storm ravaged East Coast.
(painting by Arnold Friberg)