When Montanans talk about the weather, you often hear the phrase, “Well, if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes and it’ll change.” While that phrase may be true in many places, in the mountains of western Montana is seems especially appropriate. One never knows for sure whether or not a drenching rainstorm lurks beyond the nearest mountain range, ready to wipe out your planned hike, or whether brilliant sun is just over the horizon to melt the icy roads. Even the weather professionals in western Montana rarely get it absolutely right – the past few years have been filled with storm warnings that never materialized or predictions of 2 inches of snow that resulted in 10 inches of snow.
One thing that never changes – whether in western Montana or elsewhere – is that we tend to complain about the weather. This past year, we have had a mercifully short winter and a gloriously warm February and March. (That said, yesterday morning snow was falling…) And while many are loving the weather, others are complaining, noting that we need more snowpack in the mountains to prevent summer forest fires.
So the question I want to ask here is this: should a Christian complain about the weather? Should a Christian grumble about what the day holds in terms of weather? Jerry Bridges, in his wonderful book Trusting God: Even when Life Hurts, writes that believers should not complain about the weather for two reasons.
First, the Bible teaches that God is sovereign over the weather (see Job 37:3, 6, 10-13, Psalm 147:8, 16-18, Jer. 10:13, Amos 4:7 for examples). If God is sovereign over the weather, and we complain about the weather, we are actually complaining against God. We are intimating that God is not powerful enough or wise enough to handle the weather in the right way. Perhaps we are even suggesting that we would do a better job than God in managing the weather. Complaining about the weather is actually sinning against God who controls the weather in his power, might and wisdom.
Second, not only are we sinning against God when we complain about the weather, we also deprive ourselves of the peace that comes from recognizing that our God is in control of it. The doctrine of the sovereignty of God should bring us peace. I admit, sometimes that peace is hard-won. When we turn on the news and see someone’s house wash away in a flood or we see a family sifting through the ruins of what was once their home before the tornado struck, we are apt to question why God allowed this to happen. It would be so much easier to just chalk everything like that up to an act of nature and leave God out of it. But the Bible assures us that tornados and floods are not just random acts of nature. God controls them.
The peace comes when we accept God’s sovereignty, and when we believe that God is sovereign, but also good and purposeful. Do we understand why things like weather events or natural disasters happen when they do? No, but we can say this with assurance: they come from the hand of God, God is good, and God has a purpose in them. We will not necessarily understand what God is doing, but like the prophet Habakkuk, we must trust Him.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (Hab. 3:17-18, ESV)