“He fills his hands with lightning and commands it to strike its mark. His thunder announces the coming storm; even the cattle make known its approach. At this my heart pounds and leaps from its place Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth. He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven and sends it to the ends of the earth. After that comes the sound of his roar; he thunders with his majestic voice. When his voice resounds, he holds nothing back. God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding.” (Job 36:32-37:5)
This poetic writing expresses the sense of awe I feel each day as the rainy season has descended on Burundi. It can be a sunny morning and then in a matter of minutes everything changes. Clouds gather and begin to spill over the mountains to the west. The rumbling of thunder is heard somewhat distant but then with a flash of lightning and another rumble and I nearly jump out of my chair with the increased volume. The storm sweeps in from the west following the ridge of the mountains, traveling over the plains to the north, the top of Lake Tanganyika then onto Congo’s mountains to the east.
Since our house sits on the side of a hill with a panoramic view of the west, north and east when these storms move in, so swift and powerfully, I become aware again my own human frailty in the face of such forces of nature juxtaposed to the limitless power of God who created these forces and controls them still. It has also come to my attention just how much louder and abrupt the thunder is than another new sound I have come to hear on occasion in Burundi, that of the explosive sound of grenades, mortar blasts or RPGs. As opposed to the thunder which you can hear approaching, these man-made sounds erupt as an interruption that doesn’t belong but tries to grab and hold your attention in fear.
This contrast has deepened my faith consciousness as it demonstrates God’s ways over man’s ways. These thunderstorms can move across the sky quickly dumping volumes of rain that can displace boulders, reroute rivers and overflow the storm channels. People often loose their homes, lives and livelihoods. While it can be the same with the man-made thunderstorm of violence, nature’s thunderstorms come without the intent of malice, vengeance or forced submission. They just move in their sphere of superiority and magnificence, wordlessly speaking of things we humans do not know or understand. While this could be a fearsome thing, as I stand inside the protection of the house and watch the tempest rainstorm pour down nearly every time when it is over there has been an amazing rainbow stretching across the sky carrying its reminder of a promise made by its Maker of love, forbearance and compassion for all the earth. Not so after the man-made thunder of arms.
There has been more rain than usual this season perhaps that is why these thunderstorms seem so much more pronounced than I remember them from last year. Or perhaps it’s the contrast with the man-made thunder that has caused me to give greater attention, contemplation and consideration to them. Whatever the reason it has caused me to lift my eyes to the skies and find my heart saying, “Come, Lord, come, show Your power and glory, fill the earth with the knowledge of You, as the waters cover the sea.”
We hold to the promise of the rainbow and look for good things to come!