“I had no idea it was coming,” isn’t a commonly heard phrase following a hurricane’s pass through town. Most of the time people know it is on its way, so they start preparing. I live in Tennessee, so the chances of 120 mph winds interrupting my golf outing are very slim, but I heard about this Earl before he even had a name – back when it was a wimpy tropical depression.
Meteorologists make lots of money looking at these fancy cloud formations off the African coast. Before any circular motion is even detected we are warned, “Well, folks, it looks like we’ve got another one brewing out in the Atlantic. If you take a look at our radar, you’ll see a big patch of clouds. We’ll keep you posted over the next three weeks. Here’s Tom with the sports update.”
Unlike earthquakes, hurricanes don’t just sneak up on us. There’s plenty of warning so homeowners can rush to Wal-Mart to stockpile gallons of water, rice, beans, and Mountain Dew. Earthquakes are different. You are going about your everyday routine, and your glass of water starts shaking like the T-Rex from Jurassic Park is getting closer. Next thing you know, walls are falling down, highways are crumbling, and babies are crying. Maybe not all the time, but you get the point.
When bad things happen to us in life, they usually happen all of a sudden, or there is series of unfortunate events that leads to our ultimate downfall. Typically, these clues are noticed after the fact, but sometimes we simply ignore them until it is too late. In the first case, there’s basically nothing we can do about it. In the second case, we probably find ourselves in a situation that could have been avoided.
Jonah’s situation (in the Bible) was like a hurricane. He avoided God’s directions to go preach in Nineveh, fled the country, and was eaten by a big fish. To contrast, in an “earthquake” situation, Jonah would have been eaten by big fish while kayaking on the Mediterranean Sea during his vacation, but that’s not what happened. The hurricane in Jonah’s life did not sneak up on him, nor did it surprise him: “I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you” (Jonah 1:12).
Do the problems in your life sneak up on you like an earthquake, or do you usually miss the signals and warning signs before the hurricane hits?