(This is a revision of a previous post – actually one I’ve written twice – in 2013 and 2011 – every time you guys in the South get blasted by blizzards, I guess).
I have to admit that my flesh has risen up strongly as I’ve watched my southern brethren (and sistern) bemoan the terrible weather they are suffering across the south. Here in SUX (yes, that is actually the designation of our local airport in Sioux City – you can look it up!) we’ve had some bitterly cold temps (it was a balmy 8 below this morning) but we’ve not had too much snow this year.
And the fact is that six to eight inches of snow is an annoyance around here while it paralyzes southern climes. If we got a half a foot of snow today, school would likely start two hours late tomorrow morning. If it fell during the night, depending on what time it started, there would either be a late start or a snow day that cancelled stuff. Even Iowans are becoming wimpier about canceling school, church and activities in the snow, but the fact is that 12-18 hours after the snow came down life would be pretty much back to normal. You’d still be able to buy bread and milk at the grocery store!
Why is that? Are we just made of better stuff than the thin-blooded SEC-region wimps? Well, we’d like to think so, but that’s not really it. It’s a lot simpler than that. I live in a place where snow is a constant reality. It’s expected. A foot of snow is not an everyday occurrence, but it’s not unusual either. So…
- Sioux City has a fleet of snowplows at the ready when the first flake begins to fall. By the time that 8 inches of powder has fallen, my road has probably already been plowed twice.
- We have warehouses of salt and sand and trucks to spread it on the roads with the dual purpose of keeping the roads safe and rusting out our vehicles. By the time the snow starts falling, they’ve started preparing for it.
- If you live in SUX, you better have a pretty good snow-blower. I’m guessing most of you southern folks I’ve seen talking about snow probably don’t own one of those miracle machines. You might not even own a decent snow shovel. I talked to someone in Nashville who dug out with a garden shovel!
- If you live here, you’d better have at least one vehicle with 4WD, preferably all of them. Owning a rear wheel drive truck is fun but foolish in the snow. It’s great for an adventure, but not for transportation.
- We learn how to drive in snow. A couple of weeks ago, I was going 70 mph on the interstate sideways. I didn’t plan on it, but it happened. I don’t discount the gracious hand of God but I also know if this had happened 25 years ago when I first moved here I’d have likely exacerbated things with my own stupidity and probably ended up in the ditch. All those years of doing donuts in the church parking lot served a purpose beyond just aggravating the properties team!
- We almost never lose power here. Most of our power cables are buried underground so they don’t get torn down by the weight of ice and snow.
- We buy warm coats and other clothes to survive the cold.
- Our homes are insulated, then insulated again, then insulated some more. Then, we insulate!
Here’s my point:
In Iowa, and other northern climates, heavy snow and cold weather is a normal part of life, so we prepare for it. It is the life we expect so it is the life we plan for and prepare for.
Why do you think many Christians are so unprepared for suffering and hardship when it comes? We’ve bought into this idea that God’s will is that we not suffer, that if we serve God, everything will work out and nothing will go wrong. We anathematize the prosperity cult, but we subtly adopt its ideas.
When suffering comes, when a loved one dies, when our business goes under, when opposition comes – we are shocked, surprised, saddened. God let me down. Where are you God? This isn’t supposed to happen to me. Our expectations of a life of ease, comfort and contentment, guaranteed by our service to God, have been shattered!
In the days of the early church, no such expectations existed. These people knew that suffering with Christ was a normal, natural part of their life. Their perfect savior had suffered at the hands of evil men and empty religion. They were beaten, imprisoned and martyred for their faith. Suffering for Christ was just a part of their lives.
American Christianity is soft and our expectations of suffering are low. So, when it comes it seems like snow in Nashville – an unnatural imposition on life. But “all who live godly in Christ will suffer persecution.” “It has been granted to us on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his name.” “If they hated me, they will hate you.”
We need to re-calibrate our expectations according to biblical standards.
You live in SUX! Get ready for the snow, my friend.