I recently started a new Bible storybook with my children and a few nights ago we read the story of the flood. Yesterday we decided to make fingerprint rainbows, the rainbow being the symbol of hope during these tough times (as it has always been historically). Finally, my daily reading this morning covered Hebrews chapter 11, which features many heroes of the faith including … Noah.
Almost everyone knows the basics of Noah’s story, but we get caught up mostly with the torrential rain at the start and the comforting rainbow at the end. Only in the last few days have I started to think about the middle where, if my reading of Genesis is correct, the only surviving humans were shut in that ark for a year and ten days!
Test Of Faith
I’d always thought the big test of Noah’s faith was getting into a massive boat crammed with animals in the middle of a land that had rarely, if ever, seen rain. It had never struck me that, once that door was sealed shut by God, none of those inside knew when it would open again and that, especially given our current circumstances, seems like as great a test of faith as getting into the ark in the first place!
The fear and awe at seeing the world you have known overtaken by an unstoppable tide is no longer an entirely unimaginable experience and it looks likely that months of waiting for the threat to subside will soon not be either.
No Way Of Knowing
If some of us are struggling to adjust to new routines in close quarters with our relatives then perhaps we should spare a thought for Noah’s family who spent their quarantine on a rocking boat dealing with thousands of hungry animals. They had none of our entertainment options, no walks in the country to break the monotony, no trips to the supermarket to replenish supplies, just the same tasks and the same endless vista of water and sky to look at. But much like in our situation, where the estimates keep on changing, they had no way of knowing when their confinement would end.
Scripture chooses to record no details of the thoughts and struggles of those within the ark but perhaps we have a clue as to their preoccupation when we read of their release. Whilst many of us are looking forward to seeing friends and family, a nice meal out or our kids going back to school, Noah’s first action was to build an altar and thank his God:
- a God who was in control at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of Noah’s story;
- a God who sustained and provided for every living thing on board not just for that year but for every minute of their lives before and after;
- a God who could have flooded and drained the world in a day if He so wished but had other purposes in view.
That same God is with us now and always.
May we be driven to our knees, as Noah was, in dependence and praise and may we, like so many other faithful witnesses in Hebrews chapter 11,
... run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1,2 ESV).