The heavens are telling the glory of God;
And the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. Psalm 19:1
When I was growing up, every time the weather forecaster on television would say, “There’s bad weather for tomorrow,” my father would gruffly retort, “There’s no such thing as bad weather. The only bad weather is no weather!” As a young teen, my father’s mantra influenced me. I promised to myself that I would enjoy all weather and not ever complain about it. (I admit, this has been easier said than done.) I vowed to find the beauty and God’s presence in all weather. The first line of Psalm 19 became a favorite of mine.
For years, the images I thought of when reciting this passage, were of glorious, grand vistas, with billowing white clouds, bright sunshine, and vivid blue sky. Yes! God’s handiwork is on display. These are days where revelry and praise and thanksgiving are easy! I’d love to live every day in this kind of warm, gentle, gracious, glorious weather. But that’s not how life goes.
I began to wonder what this Psalm’s declaration means during the glowering, stormy days, or times when blizzards or tornados threaten our safety, or days of such frigid weather or searing heat that it’s almost impossible to enjoy being outdoors? I don’t find these weather experiences to be glorious. I don’t want to revel or praise God during these times.
Eventually, I realized that the Psalm doesn’t distinguish the weather or the condition of the heavens or firmament. It doesn’t say that only the blue-skied, sun-shiny heavens are declaring the glory of God. The heavens tell of God’s glory and handiwork no matter the weather, no matter if the skies are filled with billowing white clouds or with glowering storms. Weather just “is.” Weather is one aspect of God’s creation, showing God’s handiwork, no matter what kind of weather is present.
I’ve been contemplating this as a metaphor for COVID and the other struggles and disasters we’ve been living through so intensely and painfully throughout this past year. These past couple of weeks, I have been a part of many conversations about how burned out or stretched thin people are feeling. Everything we have known and taken for granted has been clouded over. We are living in storms and turbulence that seem to have no end. And we are beginning to realize that even when the pandemic has subsided, we won’t be returning to the “way things were.” We have no real idea what the future holds for us. How do we find our way through all of this? How do we weather the destructive hurricanes and blizzards of life which we have experienced this past year?
There are many solutions to these questions – from the support of friends and family and community to faith and prayer and even hard work. The Psalm leads me to a response that is slightly different. It says that there is no judgment about how the heavens declare God’s handiwork. There is no expectation in the Psalm that everything will be sunny and bright. If we begin to realize that “weather just is” and that “life just is” – and (a most important and) that God “is” present in it all, then we can approach each day with grace and hope. The heavens, no matter the weather, are declaring the glory of God. Our lives, no matter how challenging, are proclaiming God’s handiwork. No judgment. Acceptance. And awareness that God is declaring and proclaiming and creating anew through it all.
Living and loving God, help us to see and experience you in all your creative blessing. Even through the most difficult times in our lives, may we notice your presence, your handiwork in every circumstance of life. May our faith in you and the support of people around us sustain and grace us each and every day. We pray in the name of Jesus our Christ. Amen.
Director, Connectional Ministries