Storm clouds gather. Problem is, they’re the wrong kind. We need rain desperately, but those clouds hold no rain. We need refreshment and renewal, a kind of inner relief. Like you feel when a sudden cloud cover blocks the burning rays of the sun and blows a cool breeze across the back of your neck. But the storm clouds I refer to bring no such relief.
These clouds are depressing, not unlike the kind Winston Churchill described in his first (of six) volumes on World War II, which he published in March of 1948 on the heels of that awful conflict. Interestingly, he titled that initial volume, The Gathering Storm. I cannot forget this terse, apt description of those months prior to the Nazi blitzkrieg which ultimately leveled much of London: “the future was heavy with foreboding.” Then, in eloquent brevity, the Prime Minister remembered 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.1
Around the world today, men with similar traits direct their power-hungry dictatorships or uprisings with the same illogical sadism and cruel determination. What will happen next is anybody’s guess, which only darkens the harsh clouds about us.
Storm clouds without rain. War clouds without relief.
Then there’s the ever-present gloom-and-doom economy. News of vast industry cutbacks, rising unemployment rates, and all the exaggerated gossip that swirls around business lunches and nightly telecasts spread an atmosphere of grim pessimism as we focus on our own “foreboding future.”
Such clouds not only cast ominous shadows of uneasiness, they breed pessimism. And unless I miss my guess, many of you are paying more attention to the bad news according to BBC than you are to the good news according to Christ Jesus, our Lord. You’re better students of world geography, public polls, and the Financial Times analysis of our times than you are of God’s sovereign hand in world affairs and His prophetic plan.
Lest you forget, He 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 clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3 NIV).
Stop. Read that again, only more slowly this time.
When God is in clear focus, His powerful presence eclipses our fears. The clouds become nothing more than “the dust of His feet.”
Seeing above the clouds won’t just happen, however. Not as long as we keep feeding our minds on daily doses of media madness and political pessimism. We need to release our fears and refresh our souls as we spend time in the quiet presence of the living Lord.
When we do, we are then able to get on with life with a lighter heart, better sight, and calmer spirit. We discover again how beautifully the truth sets us free.
I can’t promise that the clouds will be gone, but I can assure you, you won’t be the same. Gathering storm clouds don’t change overnight . . . but by learning to see above them, you’ll change. And in the final analysis, that’s what counts, isn’t it? Not removing the clouds, but seeing above them.
- Winston S. Churchill, The Second World War: The Gathering Storm (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1976), 5, 11.
Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, “Seeing Above the Clouds,” in The Finishing Touch: Becoming God’s Masterpiece (Dallas: Word, 1994), 7475. Copyright © 1994, Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.