Ask someone the most awe-inspiring sight in the world, and they might mention the Grand Canyon. They might bring up that one time they went to Yellowstone or the Bahamas or Austria or Niagara Falls. Or they might tell you about the way the trees change color in the fall or their blossoms in the spring, or the flowers that bloom every May.
For me, it’s the clouds.
The daily glories of sunrise and sunset. The puffy, cottonball-like cumulus clouds on a warm spring day. The light and wispy cirrus clouds in the middle of the sky or the flat lines of stratus clouds on the horizon. The ominous and constantly-changing cumulonimbus of summer storms—punctuated by lightning that is gone before you even fully see it and the low rumbles of distant thunder.
In the Bible, we read of Job’s struggle with God’s presence in the midst of the darkest days of his life. Where was God when his children died, his flocks were stolen or burned with fire from heaven, and his body was afflicted with painful sores?
Job’s three friends provided him with their own theories on this. It seemed obvious, really, as far as they were concerned: Why would God do this to Job unless there was some kind of sin he hadn’t confessed? They insisted Job had done something wrong.
After countless arguments from his friends and rebuttals from Job, a mysterious fourth guest speaks up. Elihu isn’t buying anything Job or his friends are saying; in his mind, they’re approaching this from the wrong angle.
“‘Look at the heavens, and see,’” Elihu says, ‘“and behold the clouds, which are higher than you’” (Job 35:5).
The clouds which are higher than you.
Some clouds can hold millions of tons of water. They can form in a few minutes or an hour, and sometimes they change shape and size and color as you are watching.
They can be oppressive sheets that insulate us in darkness, hiding from sunlight, and also glorious twists and shapes that magnify a sunset. Light and airy and wispy or dark and heavy. Just water molecules that can dump floodwaters and launch spiraling tornados and ground airplanes.
“‘Behold, God is exalted in his power;
who is a teacher like him?
Who has prescribed for him his way,
or who can say, ‘You have done wrong’?
Remember to extol his work,
of which men have sung.
All mankind has looked on it;
man beholds it from afar.
Behold, God is great, and we know him not;
the number of his years is unsearchable.
For he draws up the drops of water;
they distill his mist in rain,
which the skies pour down
and drop on mankind abundantly.
Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds,
the thunderings of his pavilion?’” (Job 36:22-29)
When we question the way life is going or how the story has changed, look at the clouds. When we aren’t sure of the next step or darker days weigh heavy on us, we just look up.
Look at the clouds.
Watch them change before your eyes. Listen to the thunder and watch the lightning. Feel the winds swirl around you as they move miles-long clouds out of sight.
“‘Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods stick fast together?'” (Job 38:37-38).
“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty.
His way is in whirlwind and storm,
and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3).