Storm clouds gather, and not the kind bringing rain’s refreshment. We need renewal and inner relief—like you feel when a sudden cloud blocks the sun’s burn and blows a breeze across the nape of your neck. But the clouds I’m talking about bring no such relief.
These clouds depress. They’re like the kind Winston Churchill described in his first (of six) volumes on World War II, published in 1948 on the heels of that awful conflict—the volume titled The Gathering Storm. I admire his terse prose describing the months prior to the Nazi blitzkrieg that leveled much of London: “The future was heavy with foreboding.” The Prime Minister recalled in eloquent terms the Fuhrer’s coming into power: “Mighty forces were adrift; the void was open, and into that void after a pause there strode a maniac of ferocious genius, the repository and expression of the most virulent hatreds that have ever corroded the human breast—Corporal Hitler.”
Around the world today leaders with similar traits direct dictatorships and uprisings with the same sadism. What will happen next is anybody’s guess, which only darkens the clouds—storm clouds without rain. War clouds without relief. Then there’s the gloom-and-doom economy. News of industry cutbacks, rising unemployment, and an atmosphere of pessimism as we focus on our own “foreboding future.”
Such clouds cast ominous shadows. They breed pessimism. And unless I miss my guess, many of us are paying more attention to the bad news according to cable TV than to the good news according to Christ Jesus—to the Wall Street Journal’s forecast than of God’s sovereign hand in world affairs and His prophetic plan.
Lest we forget, the mighty Lord God, Ruler of the universe, is still in charge. As the prophet Nahum stated so confidently, “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished. His way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nah. 1:3).
Stop. Read that again, only slower this time. When God is in focus, His power eclipses our fears. The clouds are nothing more than “the dust of His feet.”
Seeing above the clouds won’t just happen, however. Not as long as we feed our minds only on media madness and political pessimism. We need to release our fears and refresh our souls by lifting our thoughts to the living Lord and His perspective.
I can’t promise the clouds will dissipate. Sometimes warning signs precede mountain-shaking storms, a present heavy with foreboding. But as we learn to see above the clouds, we change. And in the final analysis that’s what counts, isn’t it? Transformation. Not moving the clouds, but seeing above them, past the dust on the footstool to the One worthy to receive blessing, honor, glory—to the One who sits on the throne.
About the Contributors
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. His leadership as president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and his wife Cynthia, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.