A snowball in the face

Children frolic near buried cars during Chicago’s Blizzard of ’67.

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”- Markus Zusak

“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and say on the ground to water the earth.  They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.  It is the same with my word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit.  It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”- Isaiah 55:10-11 (NLT)

The snow began falling in Chicago at  5:02 am on Thursday, January 26, 1967.  Even as the day progressed, people showed little awareness of the magnitude of what was about to happen.  Because the weather forecast on Wednesday mentioned a 50% chance of a four-inch snowfall.  However, the snow fell continuously all through Thursday in to early Friday morning.  When the blizzard ended at 10:10 am on Friday, 23 inches of snow blanketed Chicago and its suburbs.  In addition, Midway Airport reported ten-foot drifts covering its runways, aided by wind gusts of 48-53 mph.

According to the Chicago Tribune, about 50,000 abandoned cars and 800 CTA buses littered the city’s streets and expressways.  But the vertical onslaught of snow also resulted in horizontal acts of kindness.  In the aftermath of the giant blizzard snowball in Chicago’s face, drivers in cars that could get through stopped to give rides to pedestrians.  And, I missed my scheduled final exams!

Writing in Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense (2018), Paul David Tripp stresses that it’s paramount we understand that there’s no such thing as a purely horizontal complaint.  For example, if you complain about various people in your life, you’re also complaining about the God who ordained all of them to be in your life.  Therefore, when you take a discouragement snowball in the face, Pastor Tripp advises a close look at your vertical perspective:

“If you are suffering, and suffering has left you discouraged and more given to complaint than praise, it’s very important that you don’t assume the accuracy and logic of your perspectives on life.  If complaint has the power to focus your vision, it can also twist and bind your perception of reality and the God who rules it.”

Furthermore, because complaint often questions God’s goodness, faithfulness, wisdom, and love, it assaults your trust in Him.  As a result, we all need to be open and approachable in the midst of our discouragement.  This means we need to accept loving challenges to our assumptions about life.  Also, these challenges come from the clarifying truths of Scripture and loving corrections of the body of Christ.

Finally, Pastor Tripp states, our trust in God’s existence and His character forms the foundation for every good and godly thing we do.  Having a life of courageous obedience finds its roots in a heart that trusts God.  So, defeat the dangerous potential of complaint through praise, not silence.  As Kari Jobe’s lyrics in Everyone Needs a Little exhort:

“Come and find peace/ Everyone needs a little rest/ Everyone needs a little joy/ And a song to sing in the darkest night.”

About the author

Dave Henning

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