“Do you know how the clouds are balanced, Those wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?” Job 37:16
It was Elihu – one of the five primary actors in the book of Job – who spoke these words. He shared his belief after two other opinions had been given to explain God’s government. The first idea that was expressed came from Job’s three antagonists – Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. It was their opinion that God is harsh and cruel in his dealings with man. The second view was presented by Job himself. It was his belief that the clouds of life are so unequal in their distribution that the pain and joy that comes into the life of man does so regardless of how good or bad he is. It was at this point that Elihu stepped forward and gave his opinion regarding the government of God. He said to Job, “Conceding that clouds come equally into the life that is sinful and the life that is righteous, how does that prove that those who are righteous suffer the same as those who are evil? Do you know how the clouds are balanced? Do you know for certain that the same tragedy falling on two men at the same time produces the same amount of suffering? Have you taken into consideration the condition of the soul onto which the clouds fall? Don’t you know that every tragedy that comes into a life is counterbalanced by the strength of the soul onto which it falls? Until you learn this Job, you are in no position to give an opinion concerning the government or justice of God.”
I have to add a hearty amen to the sermon Elihu preached to Job that day. You see, before I can accurately assess any tragedy or consider any calamity that comes into my life I must know whether or not there is something to counterbalance or compensate against it.
In my travels around this planet, I have seen many clouds come into the lives of people, yet their presence seemed to come almost without notice. I have seen young children playing in the middle of terrible poverty, blinded to their considerably desperate condition by the buoyancy of their hearts. I have watched soldiers march mile after mile, their fatigue forgotten in the midst of their fervor for the fight. I have seen college students study for hours on end, skipping many meals and losing much sleep, propelled by their hunger for knowledge and warmed by their fire for academic success. I have read the words of martyrs, words spoken from the execution fires, encouraging their companions to remain faithful because their deaths would spark a great movement of God that would last forever.
In every situation, there was something that counterbalanced the cloud. Without their internal buoyancy, the poverty would have consumed those children. Without the fervor for the fight, the soldier would have stopped marching. Without the desire for personal accomplishment and achievement, the student would have closed his books. Without a belief in a greater life, those martyrs would have recanted in order to save their lives. In every instance, there was something to counterbalance the clouds.
My prayer is that the Lord would counterbalance the clouds that come into my life with the light of His love. I would not dare ask that He exempt me from their coming for He rides them like chariots. I simply trust that their coming is counteracted by an inward joy, a greater love. I have never seen the day that He has left my garden without a flower. I have never seen an absolute winter in the heart of those who trust Him. In the midst of the cold that comes from the clouds, there is always the warmth that comes from the love and joy that remains. This is why, when the clouds come, we should never fix our stare on them. We must always fix our focus on the rays of His glorious hope. We must let the rain that comes from these clouds water the love and joy and hope that He has placed in our hearts.
I read in my Bible these words, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” I am thankful that there is no life in which persecution is found in every city. There always remains a place of refuge and rest to which our spirit can flee. There is always a counterbalance to the clouds that come into our lives. There is joy that remains and love that springs eternal. When the stars come, they bring the night’s song. When the flood falls, it brings the rainbow. When He leads us into a storm, it is then that He comes to us walking on the water. When He brings the cross, He also carries His peace. He takes Rachel and raises Joseph. When Judas falls, and the disciples are numbered at eleven, He points to Paul “as one born out of due time.” You see, there is truth in the old saying, with Jesus “every cloud has a silver lining.”