June 29, 2012

Singing In The Rain, or ''How Great Thou Art''

Cliffs at Pourville, Rain, Claude Monet, 1896
About an hour ago, I was calmly sitting outside reading when a storm suddenly broke. I heard thunder and saw lightning as it started pouring rain. It was a big storm.

As I was watching the thunderstorm from the garage, I was very impressed by all the strength and power of the natural elements on display. I automatically started thinking about God.

All I could do was to watch, to appreciate, to admire. At that moment, I was just so aware of my powerlessness as a human being. We humans are not even close to understanding all the complexity of how the universe works. The fallibility of our knowledge in that area is made obvious by the fact that we cannot even predict the weather very well based on observation.

As I was observing the storm, I couldn't help but praise the Creator for his strength, beauty and magnificence. That was a great reminder that he is in power, and I am not. I am so small, helpless and flawed. Strangely, in his greatness, God cares about me. He who created the earth, the stars and the sun wants to be in touch with humans, whom he made in his image.

I was then reminded of an old hymn, How Great Thou Art. When I was younger, I was not very fond of old hymns because I thought the melodies were not catchy enough and there were way too many stanzas. Now that I'm older, however, I am learning to appreciate the hymns more and more and see them as hidden treasures. 

Here are the verses that came to my mind as I was watching the storm:

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works thy hands have made
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder
Thy power throughout the universe displayed

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to thee
How great thou art, How great thou art

In that moment, these words came alive to me like never before. It seemed that the hymn perfectly translated my thoughts into words.

When the storm was over, I did some research about How Great Thou Art, and found that it was originally a Swedish poem written by Carl Gustav Boberg in the 19th century. Here is how the song came to be:
Carl Boberg and some friends were returning home to Mönsterœs from Kronoböck, where they had participated in an afternoon service. Nature was at its peak that radiant afternoon. Presently a thundercloud appeared on the horizon, and soon sharp lightning flashed across the sky. Strong winds swept over the meadows and billowing fields of grain. The thunder pealed in loud claps. Then rain came in cool fresh showers. In a little while the storm was over, and a rainbow appeared.
 When Boberg arrived home, he opened the window and saw the bay of Mšnsterœslike a mirror before him… From the woods on the other side of the bay, he heard the song of a thrush…the church bells were tolling in the quiet evening. It was this series of sights, sounds, and experiences that inspired the writing of the song. (Retreived here)

I think it's very interesting how this song was written after a storm, which perhaps explains why I thought of it during a storm. It's fascinating to think that we can have similar thoughts about God in similar situations.

It's sunny outside, now.

Enclosed Fields with Rising Sun, Van Gogh, 1889

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