All Things Great and Small
Hurricane Ian recently hit Florida. Striking the coast as a Category 4 storm, it slowly meandered its way across the state, leaving millions without power and dumping copious amounts of rain, resulting in record flooding across much of southern and central Florida. Since our house sits far inland and far above water, we were able to simply sit back in amazement and observe the awesome power of the storm without fear for our lives or our livelihoods. There is something about a hurricane that makes humans feel the reality of what we truly are: small and helpless. A hurricane also helps us to feel the reality of who God is: great beyond our comprehension. Let’s think for a moment about God’s greatness as revealed in a hurricane.
A hurricane makes us notice trees – and by extension – the leaves on the trees. Many yards in central Florida have one or more huge oak trees in them. How many leaves are on an oak tree? Estimates range from 200,000 leaves to over a million leaves. In our yard alone, we have twenty-two oak trees, resulting in a staggering estimate of between four million four hundred thousand leaves and forty-four million leaves. That’s just one yard. It is truly impossible for us to calculate the total number of leaves that were blown about by the hurricane. Yet, God knows each and every leaf. He created every leaf for His glory. He plans the moment the bud begins to grow, the moment the leaf reaches its full size, and the moment it falls to the ground. In fact, He plans the exact square inch of ground that will be that leaf’s final resting place. God’s greatness is revealed in the leaves.
The next obvious component of a hurricane is water. Hurricane Ian dumped 10 or more inches of rain across 3,500 square miles of Florida, with the highest rainfall being 21.09 inches of rain in New Smyrna Beach. Flooding reached once-in-a-lifetime levels, some calling it a 500 or 1,000 year flood event, with tens of thousands of homes being flooded. It is hard to even wrap our minds around the staggering amount of destruction and property damage that has occurred. Yet, God knows each and every drop of water. He planned its beginning, way up high in the clouds. He was directing it as it swirled into the center of the hurricane. And He was not hiding His face when the drops became a drizzle, the drizzle became a deluge, and the deluge overflowed the banks of lakes and rivers. He sovereignly ordained every piece of dirt that was caught in the floodwaters, every home that was under water, every bit of damage caused by the downpour. The Bible says that God has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand (Isaiah 40:12). God’s greatness is revealed in the water.
A hurricane is called a hurricane because of its wind. Hurricane Ian hit Florida with sustained winds of 150 mph. The winds of a hurricane make up a unique and easily recognizable pattern – swirling around the quiet eye of the hurricane, the winds are strongest at the center and gradually decrease as you go towards the edge of the storm. The hurricane winds tend to come in gusts as the bands of wind reach you, blowing wildly one moment and settling into an eerie calm the next. In the awesome power of a hurricane, the thought of walking on the wind is unquestionably terrifying. The unpredictability, the force, the gusts, all combine to make commercial airplanes cancel their routes and duck for cover. Yet, the Bible speaks of God walking on the wind: He is the One “who walks on the wings of the wind” (Psalm 104:3). God’s greatness is revealed in the wind.
A hurricane reveals just a little bit of the greatness of God. The Bible reveals much, much more of His greatness. Yet, there is much that we cannot understand. God is infinite, and we are finite. He is the Creator of all things, and we are the creatures. “His understanding is unsearchable” (Isaiah 40:28). He ordains the direction of leaves, water, and wind, while we duck for cover and emerge after the storm to see the results. Yet, this amazing, all-powerful, awesome God also cares for us, individually and personally. At times, when the winds and waves of life buffet us, and the storms of life wreak havoc on our hopes, dreams, and plans, it is hard to understand our God. It is hard to believe, and it is hard to trust. Yet the God who commands the leaves, water, and wind, is a God who can be trusted. Isaiah presents the dilemma and the answer: “Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel: ‘My way is hidden from the LORD, and my just claim passed over by my God’? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the LORD will renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:27-31). So it is with all those who are in Christ.