12th June

The Thunderer

Then the Lord thundered from the heavens, and the voice of the Most High was heard. Psalm 18: 13

There was a time when a famous British newspaper was known as ‘The Thunderer’. In those days it was the mouthpiece, not of Money or Power so much as of Moral Truth. When that newspaper thundered, people in high places, or wrong places, shook. That experience gives us a clue to an aspect of God’s nature.

Chad was greatly filled with the fear of the Lord and was mindful of his last end in all he did. If a high wind arose, he would immediately stop whatever he was doing and pray God to have mercy on the human race. If the wind became a gale he would lie prostrate in earnest prayer. If there was a violent storm, lightning or thunder he would go to the church and devote himself to prayers and psalms until it passed.

When people asked him why he did this he replied: ‘Have you not read “The Lord also thundered in the heavens and the Most High gave voice. Yes, the Most High sent arrows and scattered the people, shot out lightnings and discomforted them”? For the Lord moves the air, raises the winds, hurls the lightnings, and thunders forth from heaven in order to rouse earth’s inhabitants to revere him, to remind them of future judgement in order to scatter their pride and confound their presumption. The Lord does this by calling to their minds the time when he will come in clouds in great power and majesty to judge the living and the dead, while the heavens and the earth are aflame.’

Chad concluded: ‘And so we ought to respond to God’s heavenly warning with due fear and love, so that as often as he disturbs the sky and raises his hand as if about to strike, yet spares us still, we should implore his mercy, examining our consciences, turning from our sins, and thereafter behaving with such care so that we do not deserve to be struck down’.
Told to Bede by one of Chad’s fellow monks, Trumberht

God of the storm, God of the stillness
of squalls of power and of shimmering calm
into life’s troughs and into life’s billows
come with the reach of your long right arm.