My children once hated the thunder, the wind, the downpour of rain beating against their window. But God’s creative love brings good out of even the most violent of storms.
by Lynda Marie
The thunder cracked and boomed overhead, making the walls shake and the pictures rattle. My sons jumped, eyes wide, and ran to the window. The rain was coming down hard, in heavy sheets, and the lightning lit up the trees that were otherwise hidden in the dark night. Wind pushed hard against our house and in the distance, we could hear the sirens. We grabbed flashlights and our blankets and headed for the basement, where we would listen and wait and pray until the worst was over and calm returned. When it became quiet again, we would peer out the windows, trying to assess the damage in the murky moonlight. But we wouldn’t fully know until morning just how much recovery work would lie ahead. Would we only have a few twigs and branches to pick up? Or would we find our fence crushed beneath fallen trees, or our driveway blocked and impassable?
Waking the Frogs
Each season of the year brings to my family both excitement and uncertainty and springtime is no exception. In just a few minutes, the fairy tale beauty of a woodland carpeted with wildflowers can become the scene of destruction from a tornadic windstorm. The lilting song of the waterthrush nesting along a bubbling brook can soon be silenced by the roar of the raging torrent created by swift and sudden flood waters, leaving waterthrushes no choice but to sit high above the raging waters watching the stream they once trusted wash their nests away.
And yet, while the waterthrushes are mourning their loss, the toads are rejoicing. For the toads and frogs, the heavy rains and earth-shaking thunder are the cue for which they’ve been waiting. Only thunder so loud that it shakes the ground convinces them that the time has come to emerge from their dark burrows deep within the ground. The vibration of the thunder combined with the soaking of warm rain percolating through the soil arouses them from their deep slumber and entices them to join in the life above. In celebration, they cover the woods and meadows with their numbers, happily moving across the landscape in the pouring rain and calling merrily with each clap of thunder.
Finding Meaning Behind the Fear
My children are not afraid of thunderstorms. They once were, and there are still many days and nights when the sound of thunder in the distance will draw their attention, and they will apprehensively ask me if a storm is approaching. I suspect that when they hear the distant sound of thunder, they still fight the urge to run from their beds and into mommy and daddy’s bedroom, where they can hide under the covers and snuggle up against us. Having lived the early years of their lives in the Midwest, they have seen firsthand the destruction and havoc that a storm can bring.
But they also know that in order to find frog and toad eggs in the mud puddles, they must first endure the thunder that makes them want to hide. They know that in order to have pileated woodpeckers nesting in their backyard, they must first suffer through the explosive and unpredictable snapping sounds of limbs being torn from the trees in high winds. And they know that if they want to watch the red fox emerge at sunset from her den carved out of the roots of a fallen tree, they must first be witness to the storm that pushed the old oak into its grave. They know now that a thunderstorm is the catalyst that often brings forth new life.
God’s Extended Love
But more than that, my children are beginning to understand that they are part of something much greater than themselves and that they live in a world created for them, but not just for them. They are beginning to understand that the world outside their window is also for the toads, the waterthrushes, the foxes, and the woodpeckers. They know that God gave them this beautiful earth to serve their needs, but not to mistake that for thinking that he is not concerned about the other creatures on it.
Once upon a time, my children hated the thunder, the wind, the downpour of rain beating against their bedroom window. They certainly understood the need for rain, but they saw no obvious purpose behind the thunder and lightning and torrential downpours. What purpose did it serve, they’d ask. Isn’t the rain enough? Why is God sending us thunder so loud and lightning so frightening, they would ask.
But now, when they hear the thunder that makes the ground shake and their windows rattle, they are grateful. They understand that God is not sending these things to frighten them. They realize instead, that their God is a loving God, and that his love extends not just to them but to all of his creation as well. And they find consolation and reassurance in knowing that they are cared for by a God who will do mighty things just to wake up a frog.