God in the Deluge
If those living in the UK over the last two months are anything like me, then they too, I am sure, have had enough of this terrible weather. It feels to me as though our television screens have been on an endless loop of showing more and more iconic images of waves pummelling our coastline, and of communities inundated with flood water. And yes, it is official: we have suffered the wettest, and possibly the windiest, winter on record. Yet, as the storms seem to abate, it now feels like we are entering a season of recriminations.
Various polls tell us who we think is to blame for the flooding; with the Government, the Environment Agency and freak weather all vying for the top spot. And if we are to believe these polls, then almost 40% of us think that ‘some towns and villages are not worth defending from flooding, because the cost is too high’. Yet in all of the talk, I’ve not seen anyone point the finger at God. Is this because we as a nation, no longer believe in God? Or have we pushed the view that our God is the ‘God of love’ so much so that we now cannot believe He could have any involvement in such suffering?
In his letter to the Romans, Paul reminds us that God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people. And yes if we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves. So we can ask ourselves: how is God revealing his anger? The first thing to note is that the ‘is revealing’ is a present tense, continuous action. Paul answers this very question in at least three ways in his letter to the Romans; (i) human death reveals the wrath of God from which no-one is immune; (ii) the sinking degradation of human behaviour; and (iii) universal futility and misery are evident of God’s wrath.
It is this last point that I wish to explore in a bit more detail here. From Paul’s words, we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present times, and even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. So yes, when the winds blew down my fence panels, my chimney cowl, and a tree in my garden, and when the intense rain fell over our land, these things all point to a futility in God’s creation. And even more so my inept rants to God about still more grotty weather are futile.
Yet in all of this terrible weather, we can see the power and awesomeness of God, and there is nothing that we can build, such as the railway line near Dawlish, that can withstand this power. In fact the Bible sees the ‘sea’ as the forces of chaos, which seek to suck the world back into the void of nothingness. For first-century people, these forces of chaos were somehow associated with the winds and waves of lakes and oceans. The sea represented the powers at work in the universe that threaten to undo us. But scripture climaxes in John’s vision of a new heaven and a new earth in Revelation, where the sea has gone. We can, and indeed must, hold onto this vision where the forces of chaos have gone! No more winds blowing through towns and villages. No more floodwaters inundating our lands. No more tears, death, mourning, crying, or pain. No more character traits and behaviours that are inconsistent with the kingdom of God. No temple. No need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon us. No closed gates. No longer any curse. And yes, no longer any sea!
I must admit that I don’t always understand why God chooses to show His wrath in these ways. Yet, I very much believe our God is also the God of the deluge. And my final prayer and hope is that, just like the wind and the waters have battered our country over the last two months, so the wind of the Holy Spirit will spread across our nation, and His living waters will flood our land.
 Romans 1v18 (New Living Translation)
 1 John 1v8 (NLT)
 Romans 5
 Romans 1v24-28
 Romans 8
 Romans 8v22-23 (NLT)
 Psalm 93v3
 Revelation 21v1 (NLT)