For forty days the flood kept coming on the earth, and as the waters increased they lifted the ark high above the earth. The waters rose and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the surface of the water. They rose greatly on the earth, and all the high mountains under the entire heavens were covered. The waters rose and covered the mountains to a depth of more than fifteen cubits. (Genesis 7:17-20 NIV)
My spirit has been led of late to the subject of storms – what they look like, the different types of storms that we encounter, and how we get through them. As God would have it, we have been examining the early chapters of Genesis during our current session of Bible Study, and there is no better example of a great storm than the flood that God brought over all the earth in chapters 6-8 of Genesis.
This particular flood came because God was upset with the amount of wickedness on the earth; this flood was tremendous in its physical proportions – as the excerpt above suggests – but the storm was really just a means of spiritually cleansing the earth and starting over. The storms that hit our lives will come for lots of different reasons. There are the “physical” storms – like Hurricane Irene that struck New England this summer, or the tsunamis that have ravaged Japan and parts of southeast Asia in recent years – but there are also emotional, spiritual, and psychological storms, as we all struggle through the grief of lost loved ones, the heartbreak of broken relationships, or the frustrations of unmet expectations in our life.
As we consider the subject of storms, this excerpt from Genesis 7 strikes me for two reasons: 1) the awesome sight that Noah must have witnessed; 2) the abundance of God’s love that preserved Noah and those on the ark in the midst of this awesome sight.
In terms of the awesome sight that Noah witnessed, keep in mind that we are talking about rain that came and did not stop for forty days! It rained quite heavily this past Friday night, which made for a wet commute to and from church, a wet walk in and out of places, and a more treacherous drive through the streets of Cambridge and Medford where I was preaching at revival. I imagined to myself: What if this rain kept going tomorrow, the next day, and for another thirty-seven days after that? Would the floods begin? How high would the water rise? At what point might I need to consider making my way to an ark?
Verse twenty of this passage suggests that the waters reached over twenty-five feet in the air (one “cubit” equals about twenty inches), and we know that for the waters to rise so high that they even covered over the tops of the mountains it was even more than that! This sight must have been awesome but also tremendously frightening to Noah and his family. Yet in the midst of that awesome wonder, we are also told that God provided for the ones that he had chosen: as the waters rose, so did the ark! If the waters were twenty-five feet in the air, then the ark must have been at least twenty-six feet!
This passage teaches us that in the midst of our storm, God will provide for us. Sometimes we just have to thank and praise God for keeping our head above water, for making sure that if our storm has pushed the waters high, that God keeps us just a little bit higher. We may be scared sometimes; we may get tired of swimming; we may wonder whether or not we are going to make it. But we must place our faith in God, who chooses us for great tasks just like He chose Noah to save a remnant of creation; and we must believe that if God has chosen us, then God will take care of us, even through the storm.
Oh God, help me to trust in you as I go through the storms of life. Even as the waters rise ever higher and higher, keep my head above water, and my mind and heart at peace.
Prayer focus for the week: increasing our spiritual stamina.