Reflections on spiritual themes (and a few other things).

Month: January 2024

The God of Ice and Snow

This week, the Mid-South has been hit hard with snow and frigid temperatures. Memphis averages 2.7 inches of snow per year, most often in the form of one or two snowfalls of one or two inches each. This week we’ve had about six inches, and the city is pretty much shut down.

When we think about ice and snow, it should also make us think about God. In the Book of Job, God challenged Job by saying, “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of distress, for the day of war and battle?” (Job 38.22-23)

That text is remarkable for many reasons, not the least of which is that the land of Israel rarely saw snow. Yet there are over 80 references to snow, hail, ice, and winter. Mount Hermon, which is 145 miles north of Jerusalem was visible for miles and usually snow covered all year. The Book of Job has more references to wintery weather than any other book, and Job lived in the middle of the Arabian Desert!

Let me suggest three powerful lessons about God that we can learn from the snow and ice.

First, when we think about snow and ice, we should think about the power of God. In the book of Job, Elihu says, “God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend. For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong’ … from the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen” (Job 37.5-6, 10). Only God causes the snow and ice to fall and uses them for his purposes.

Second, when we think about snow and ice, we should think about the providence of God. We tend to think about the inconvenience of snow, ice, and cold weather, but God uses the weather to meet the needs of his people. Speaking of God’s provisions for Jerusalem, Psalm 147 says, “He makes peace in your borders; he satisfies you with the finest of the wheat. He sends forth His command to the earth; his word runs very swiftly. He gives snow like wool; he scatters the frost like ashes. He casts forth His ice as fragments; who can stand before His cold? He sends forth His word and melts them; he causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow” (v. 14-18).

Finally, when we think about snow and ice, we should think about the purity of God. After his sin with Bathsheba, David prayed, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51.7). There’s nothing as white as snow. I have a dear friend in Iowa, who whenever it snows says, “There’s no white like God’s white.” The Bible uses the whiteness of snow as a metaphor for moral cleanness. Sin is portrayed as an ugly stain, but God offers to cleanse our spirits and make them “as white as snow.”

Snow and ice are a bit inconvenient and messy. But like all of God’s creation, they’re a powerful witness to the limitless power of God. Praise God for cold weather!

Look Up!

Have you ever noticed that we humans hang our heads when we’re sad, guilty, or when we feel defeated? I’m not sure why we do it. It’s such a universal response that it’s likely innate and reflexive. When children are punished or shamed, they hang their heads. When adults are humiliated or when the burden of the world is on their shoulders, they hang their heads. Job equated it with misery and disgrace: “If I am wicked, woe to me! And if I am righteous, I dare not lift up my head. I am sated with disgrace and conscious of my misery” (Job 10.15). 

Sometimes we probably SHOULD hang our heads. We sometimes do things that are less than noble or from less than noble motives. If we’ve treated others with dishonor; if we ourselves have acted ignobly; if we’re in the wrong — then bobble-heads we should be!

But thankfully, God can restore our dignity and worth. In Psalm 3.3, David declares, “But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.” 

According to the inscription at the beginning of this psalm, David wrote this while fleeing from his son Absalom. Absalom rebelled against David and temporarily drove him from the throne and Jerusalem (2 Samuel 15-19). The psalm begins with a declaration by David that his adversaries abound. But despite their threats, he has the assurance of God’s past deliverances and the promise of future security. It’s in this context that David makes the declaration of trust in verse three. Lifting the head symbolized victory over one’s enemies (Psalm 27.6), and here, the restoration of dignity and place. 

If you’re hanging your head because of mistakes you’ve made, lift up your head, for there is forgiveness. If you’re hanging your head because your circumstances weigh heavily upon you, lift up your head, for there is hope. If you’re hanging your head because you’re not sure of your worth to God, lift up your head, for there is assurance.

No matter where you are in your life, no matter what your circumstances, look up!