Job 36:29 “Can any understand the spreading of the clouds…”, 37:16 “Dost thou know the balancing of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge?”
I was thinking of the International Space Station flying 350 km above the earth. Sometimes they get amazing photos of earth but that depends whether there are clouds between them & us.
So, I was thinking about spiritual clouds & no, we mostly can’t understand the spreading of them or the balancing of them, but our Heavenly Father uses clouds of experiences to test us or allows Satan to bring certain clouds across our pathway. Satan brings the clouds to try to tempt us & also to try to obscure our vision of the sun, the Sun of righteousness. He doesn’t want us to feel the healing & comfort, purpose & power, understanding & enlightenment which trusting in Jesus brings.
Some of the different clouds that come across our pathway…
CLOUDS of grief. Grief is defined in the dictionary as intense sorrow, trouble or annoyance. We feel grief naturally when someone we love passes away, but there’s a grief worse than that. That’s the grief of knowing we are sinful & powerless to bring pleasure to God, or the grief of having disappointed Him & ourselves & perhaps others by our failures. That is what causes us to reach out to Him…so we see these clouds of grief are a blessing in disguise because they make us feel our need, as do the following clouds…
CLOUDS of pressure. Sometimes others put us under pressure, at school, in the workplace, in other situations; sometimes we put ourselves under pressure. Allow that pressure to drive us closer to God like Hannah did & David did when he was being pursued by Saul.
There are CLOUDS of temptation. I don’t believe Joseph would have been tempted at all by Potiphar’s wife because he had a clear understanding of the sanctity of marriage & knew that it was a great wickedness & sin in God’s eyes. However, she was an agent of Satan & sometimes such can appear very attractive to us, especially if we are lonely.
Eve looked at the forbidden tree & saw the fruit, that it was good for food, pleasant to the eyes & to be desired to make one wise & she reached out for it with disastrous consequences.
CLOUDS of tribulation. Acts 14:22 the latter part of the verse says: “we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.”
Through tribulation, patience is born. Tribulation tests our love for God & His Son.
Naturally there are snow clouds which bring a bitter cold wind…experiences or even people who come across that pathway can have that effect on us…deaden our senses, make us feel numb.
Job 38:22. “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?”
Hail, naturally, can be stinging, painful, damaging. But there are treasures in these kinds of experiences when we humble ourselves & cry out to God for His help.
Thunder clouds & lightning…crashing, flashing, frightening. However, they have a purpose. The earth is recharged by thunderstorms. The earth is charged negatively & the atmosphere charged positively. There are 16 million thunderstorms worldwide per year. Lightning helps nitrogen to be added to the soil.
We can look at these clouds & fear them, but as they have a purpose naturally, so do the storms of life.
I saw a photo once of a hurricane taken from the International Space Station. It was quite beautiful. You could clearly see the eye of the storm from above. Below it was wreaking havoc, damaging, killing, flooding.
The message in this that I got for myself was, that in the storms of life, we need to nestle right into the heart of our Saviour, where there is a perfect calm & where there is peace.
Jonah created a storm by his unwillingness. He admitted it to the men he was journeying with (latter part of Jonah 1:12). However, God was able to turn that negative situation into a positive one. v.14, the men prayed, v. 16, they feared God exceedingly & offered a sacrifice & made vows.
Be very careful to avoid storms of our own making because the outcome may not be as good for our fellow travelers as this was for Jonah’s.
There are CLOUDS of busy-ness or business which have been blown away worldwide by something God allowed or even arranged. It has helped us to pause & consider.
There are CLOUDS of uncertainty over our future, but maybe God wants us to learn better, how to live from day to day, how to be faithful just for this day.
When we fly in a plane, we rise up above the clouds. New Zealand is known as the Aoteoroa, “the land of the long white cloud.” Being islands, they are often cloud-covered. I always enjoy the experience of rising above them & being brightened by the rays of the sun. There is a hymn that says “Back of the clouds, the sun is always shining.”
You need clouds to have a beautiful sunset. ‘Tis then you see the richness of the colours God has created. A favourite thing of mine is to watch the sun rise. Because I am often in different locations, I am not always sure exactly where East is. But just before the sun rises there is a vivid colour in the sky & you can see where the sun will arise. It is part of God’s order & arrives at exactly the minute it is predicted. One day there will be the bright & morning star, the day star which will arise and there will be no more clouds on the horizon for us.
May we use these cloudy experiences to come closer to God that we would be unmoved & unperturbed by them.