Two Storms

Scripture Focus: Job 38.1a
1 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm…

Reflection: Two Storms
By John Tillman

There are two storms in the Book of Job. At the beginning is a storm sent by Satan. At the end is a storm bringing God’s presence.

Satan’s storm brings death. A wind blows in from the desert, destroying a house with Job’s children inside. News of this storm comes to Job alongside news of disasters that hit like hailstones. A storm of fire rains down, burning up sheep and shepherds. Raiders steal oxen, camels, and donkeys and murder their caretakers. Satan’s storm crushes joy and celebration. It destroys resources. It leaves Job sobbing in a circle of the storm’s sole survivors.

Satan isn’t satisfied with the external storm’s lack of success. Storms of sickness follow, attacking Job’s skin, bones, inner being, and mind. He scrapes his itching sores with broken pottery. In his mind, thoughts of suicide, death, and annihilation scratch their way to the surface.

As Elihu speaks in chapter 37, he repeatedly references a storm. They must have been able to see it blowing in. “Listen! Listen…” Elihu cries. (Job 37.2-4) In chapter 38, the storm breaks over them.

This storm is no airy, dry wind from the desert. It is far greater and more terrifying. It has lightning, thunder, billowing clouds, and downpours of rain and snow. But this storm is not just sent by God or made by God. God is in this storm. God’s power flashes in its lighting. His roaring voice echoes in its thunder. His hovering Spirit stirs up its billowing clouds of darkness that blot out the sun.

God speaks out of this powerful, threatening storm. His words are harsh lighting flashes of truth. His emotions rumble like rolling thunder. His arguments are unanswerable. There is no defense against the flood of them. All Job’s words, doubts, and challenges are washed into the sea. Yet, this storm does not bring chaos and death.

God’s storm brings life. Job’s illness washes away with the flood. The sky clears, and God makes Job his priest, interceding and accepting offerings for the sins of his friends. The sun warms Job as friends bring him comfort. Job is, once again, God’s righteous representative, restored to honor, wisdom, and wealth.

God is not in every storm. Some storms just bring death. Wait and pray for the second storm—the storm that brings God’s presence. God’s storm restores health and faith, brings growth and joy, and rains blessings and comfort.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Small Verse
Show us your mercy O Lord; and grant us your salvation.
Clothe your ministers with righteousness; let your people sing with joy.
Give peace, O Lord, in all the world; for only in you can we live in saftey.

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

​Today’s Readings
Job 38 (Listen 3:33)
Psalm 23-24 (Listen 2:03)

Read more

Read more about Prayers Before the Storm — Guided Prayer
It seems to me that Elihu must have been aware of the storm of God’s presence…I imagine the winds lifting his words as he spoke of God’s majesty

Read more about Supporting Our Work
We need support from donors like you to provide ad-free content that brings biblical devotionals to inboxes across the world.

On Keeping Vigil

Scripture Focus: Job 38.1-3
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

Reflection: On Keeping Vigil
By John Tillman

In her insightful article on the practice of keeping vigil during Lent, Heather Hughes comments on an observation made by Thomas Merton while he was keeping watch for wildfires:

“In a haunting meditation on his experience of watching for wildfires one hot summer night in the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, Thomas Merton makes the link between the enhanced sensory awareness of those on vigil and their enhanced spiritual awareness:

‘The fire watch is an examination of conscience in which your task as watchman suddenly appears in its true light: a pretext devised by God to isolate you, and to search your soul with lamps and questions, in the heart of darkness.’

Merton is confronted with the immediacy of God’s transcendent mystery; the darkness and isolation of his vigil provide an experience much like Job’s encounter with God’s voice in the whirlwind:

God, my God, God Whom I meet in darkness, with You it is always the same thing! Always the same question that nobody knows how to answer! I have prayed to you in the daytime with thoughts and reasons, and in the nighttime You have confronted me, scattering thought and reason. I have come to You in the morning with light and with desires, and You have descended upon me, with great gentleness, with most forbearing silence, in this inexplicable night, dispersing light, defeating all desire.’

In his wakefulness Merton perceives more of the world around him, but also the quality of his own soul. Like Job, he learns that his questions, doubts, and accusations do not begin to confront the unfathomable enormity of God’s reality.

This is what we hope to accomplish through the spiritual discipline of keeping vigil: an encounter with the living God, an increased sensitivity to his presence in our lives and in the world, and a better understanding of who we are in light of this.”

As Hughes suggests, may we keep vigil during this season of Lent. If not the literal meaning of vigil—praying the hours at midnight—may we keep a mindfulness of God’s presence with us in not only the light moments of life, but in the darkness. For if joy is to come in the morning, first we must sit through the dark.

*Quotations condensed from “Keeping Vigil” by Heather Hughes.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
O Lord, my God, my Saviour, by day and night I cry to you. Let my prayer enter into your presence. — Psalm 88.1-2

Today’s Readings
Job 38 (Listen -3:33),
2 Corinthians 8 (Listen -3:25)

Read more about Spiritual Vigilance Needed :: Worldwide Prayer
The dangers of spiritual life are more subtle than a home invasion—and more dangerous.

Read more about Meditation in Spiritual RhythmThomas Merton poetically wrote about humanity, “He is the saddest animal. He drives a big red car called anxiety.