October is a time which can see natural storms, sometimes destructive and terrifying, mark the change of seasons from summer towards winter. In modern society we may be as badly affected by economic storms of which October has had a share too. The infamous Wall Street Crash took place on 29 October 1929, and Black Monday, 19 October 1987 combined a natural storm and an economic storm.
The Gospels credit Jesus with the ability to still storms. But the message which in so doing he left with his disciples was about his divine nature, sharing God’s power above all storms, and not a transferable skill.
As we face storms (natural and economic) we may feel closer to Job, the writer in the Old Testament upon whom disaster after disaster unjustly fell, and who challenged God to face him directly to account for the injustice. Four people, in the guise perhaps of messengers, attempt unsuccessfully to defend God’s position in human terms. Then God responds to Job directly. He affirms Job’s integrity and restores to him long life, wealth and a happy and multiplied family. But in terms of the question asked, God’s answer seems to be that there are questions beyond human understanding, and this is one of them. In any event, of the fact that storms are part of the plan God leaves no doubt.
Job 38: 4–7, 16-18, 22-27, 34-36
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind: Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.
Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
Who has cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no one lives, on the desert which is empty of human life, to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass?
Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, so that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, or given understanding to the mind?
We pray for a world which faces economic storms.
We think of parts of our world which also face unfair trade barriers and have weakened financial and social systems.
We pray for industries and regions which face decline.
We pray for those who seek to overcome these problems globally, nationally and locally.
Make us attentive to the consequences of our own behaviour as employees, consumers, shareholders and voters.
In Jesus’ name we ask.
God of storms
You have entered into the springs of the sea and walked in the recesses of the deep. You have stood in our skin, felt our fear and experienced our blindness.
Make the coming storm gentle, if it can be.
Make us courageous, if we can be.
But above all make us humble before you.
In Jesus’ name we ask.