Talk about the weather is everywhere. Not only is it a light, pleasant topic for small talk in the grocery line, it takes up a lot of airtime in every day’s news broadcast. And with constantly updated apps and websites today, we can check it anytime, almost anywhere, even if we could get some of the same information by simply looking out the window.
For decades, access to the forecast was limited to the nightly weather report on TV, the morning radio or the daily newspaper. As a kid in the 90s, my friend had to call the National Weather Service to ask if the temperature would reach 75 degrees so she could wear shorts to school. I had to convince my mom that it was already 60 degrees in the morning so that I didn’t have to wear socks. Some days I fudged it by warming our simple thermometer with my breath.
You checked the forecast because you did not want to be caught off guard. I remember a school outing with 600 students in pouring rain, trying to protect the hot dogs on the grill with umbrellas. Then there was the surprise thunderstorm when we were rock climbing at 11,000 ft., not to speak of a family trip when all of us were melting and how I cried when I discovered my doll’s legs had been deformed by the sun baking the car.
Sometimes we also exaggerate. Sometimes the news hypes the forecast to catch our attention, calling a few hot summer days a heat wave and keeping us tuned in with the ever-threatening winter storm watch during an average Midwest winter. An online survey reported by Canadian press in December 2013 showed that the app the Canadians use the most is indeed the weather app.
There are big benefits: if you’re planning a long hike, it is useful to know what the day might bring. For farmers and fishermen, knowing the weather is essential to their job. Warnings about severe threats such as tornados, flooding or snow storms can save lives.
Checking the weather, though, can become addictive. So why do we want to know exactly what the weather will be? Maybe we want to be prepared as much as possible — and have everything under control. We want sun for our party and a bit of snow for Christmas!
Or maybe, with disturbing news about droughts, landslides, flash floods and destructive tornados, we realize that no insurance policy or technique can save us from the natural power that makes life possible but can also destroy it. With all our knowledge we cannot change the direction of one single cloud. Nobody can predict where it’s going to pour down. When I feel the power of a storm, listen to crashing thunder, walk under a baking sun, I realize how small I am and how majestic and powerful creation is.
While writing this article, the Weather Channel changed the forecast for today three times. Even with the most modern computers, meteorologists are often wrong, so that in the end, this German farmers’ proverb might be the most accurate of all: “If the cock cries in the morning mist, the weather might change — or remain as it is.”
Keeping that in mind, taking the weather from the hands of God as it comes could give us a peaceful indifference: I cannot change it! But I can always recognize that these circumstances might tell me something: instead of running outside to relax, I should take the time to read or chat with others. Instead of spending a day outside shopping and sightseeing, I might discover that cleaning the attic and watching a movie was the right thing to brighten up the relationships at home.
It reminds me that my plans are only one part of the bigger picture — that my life unfolds between my goals, circumstances, the interactions with others, all part of God’s caring guidance.