I just love thunderstorms. I become captivated watching those flashes of lightning and then wait in anticipation for the inevitable thunderclap, counting the seconds to estimate the distance of the storm away (for example, three seconds = 1 kilometre).
I know for some people this is can be frightening, but not for me. In fact, I don’t really understand how it induces fear—as often it is the sound of thunder that people hate, despite the thunder itself having no power. Yes, it is very often loud, but it cannot hurt you.
Lightning, on the other hand, is another story. Lightning has a diabolical and sometimes lethal power.
A few weeks ago I called my mum after a terrible thunderstorm had ripped through the suburb she lives in. She was telling me that during the afternoon the flash of lightning was so bright and the crash of thunder so loud and immediate that she thought the lightning had surely struck her roof.
Thankfully, that was not the case, but sadly only a few kilometres from where she lives the lightning had struck and killed a young father who was standing out in the open.
There’s such an awful randomness to this. You just never know where or how lightning will strike. As much as I love thunderstorms, I love observing them only from the safety of a building.
I am not keen to be caught in one while I am driving or out in the open. In fact, I am quite anxious and feel vulnerable and at risk. I have never been one to trivialise the occasion of a thunderstorm by exclaiming that thunder is only the sound of God rearranging the furniture in heaven and lightning is God taking our photo.
They are both a powerful force of nature and one best experienced and observed from a position of safety, preferably snuggled up in bed with the curtains open so I can watch the light show.
In the book of Psalms I am reminded that, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands’ (Psalm 19, verse 1).
This is the verse that pops into my mind when I am watching the thundering display, and then afterwards, too, as most thunderstorms bring rain with them. But what often follows rain? A rainbow—another sign of God’s interaction with the world and his promises.
If you would like to read more about this, check out the story of Noah in Genesis chapter 9, verses 12–17.