We can picture Noah looking out one of the rain-streaked port holes of the ark and wondering, “Is it ever going to stop raining?”
We summer 2021 mortals are wondering the same after several days of steady rain and reclusive sun. Think about rain, heavy, wet, dreary, drenching rain. Think about Noah and the ark spending, according to modern reckoning, at least 150 days on an ark full of two animals of every kind and a human family with human faults and human habits. He might have spent a lot of time on the rain-washed deck instead of the company below. Sometimes life seems like a rain-washed deck. Our life voyage sometimes takes us into a series of steady rain squalls as heavy as two elephants on the ark that threaten to sink our hope of a rainbow.
Despite his faith, do you think Noah ever wondered if and when it would stop raining?
Imagine this. Day No. 29 on the ark. The elephants are having a squabble and one of them stomps out of the room and slams the door. The entire ark rocks back and forth and the trumpeting insults of the other elephant cause a windstorm that blows several chickens off their perches on the deck rail. He can’t go below for human solace because he can hear Mrs. Noah calling his name and one of his sons and his wife – probably Ham and Mrs. Ham – arguing about who was going to dry the dishes. Noah sighs and grips the rail, wiping away the raindrops running down his nose.
At this point Noah might wonder: “Do I have enough faith to weather this latest storm?” Noah’s story in Genesis identifies Noah as a “righteous man who found favor with God.” How do righteous and favored people like Noah navigate storms in their lives, and what about ordinary people with regular sinning episodes?
Do you think Noah might have wondered from the beginning if his listening to God was faith or folly? What did he think when He heard God’s voice telling him to build a boat and load animals and his family onto it? What did he think when his neighbors laughed at him and questioned his sanity? Instead of trying to prove He actually heard God’s voice, Noah listened and built the ark. He listened to his neighbors laugh and kept on building. He listened to his family and animal sounds and kept loading the ark. Noah kept believing in God’s plans and goodness despite the storm clouds, including some doubt, that followed him through each experience in his life on the ark and afterwards.
Faith and feeling often battle each other like porcupine quills on dogs’ noses on the ark or otherwise and people on the ark or otherwise. When storms strike our lives, feeling sometimes says that God has turned His back on us. When things don’t turn out right or the way we want them to turn out, feeling wants to give up and retreat. Noah had to have days like that. He was responsible for a diverse population of animals that included elephants, skunks, and porcupines. He was responsible for a diverse population of people that included great potential for family squabbles. The weather did not ease his problems any. Some days he surely felt like we do when we feel that some days or some situations are not worth they effort and emotional energy they require.
Noah kept following his faith over his feelings. He had enough faith in God to send out the raven who kept flying over the waters to see if they were going down at all and the raven did not return to the ark. Biblical scholars and ministers of the gospel interpret the raven and his actions in different ways. Some believe the raven is a symbol of Satan, of human depravity, or sexual sin. The positive interpretation says that ravens fed Elijah. Psalm 147:9 and Job 38:41 use ravens to symbolize God’s care for all of his creation. In Luke 12:24, Jesus uses ravens to illustrate Gods care for his people.
Is it possible that Noah’s raven symbolized God’s concern and care for people and both their rebirth and the birth of their home, planet earth? The raven didn’t return because he had the difficult task of helping Noah resurrect the flooded world and he had enough faith to begin what seemed like an endless task? However small the steps of faith, they don’t move backwards. There is always a mustard seed of faith buried in the rank weeds of doubt.
Even when the raven didn’t return, Noah followed his faith in rebirth. He sent the dove out two times. The first she returned with an olive branch. The second time she did not return. Had she developed the same faith in resurrection and rebirth as the raven despite their biological differences?
Noah took the next steps on is voyage of faith, despite currents of doubt. After the dove returned with the olive branch, he tackled the task of unloading the ark and settling everyone on land again. Where to begin after the initial faith step. There are so many choices in faith action.
Despite his faith, Noah must have wondered what to do next. Then Noah waited for the rainbow that his faith told him would come. It appeared in the rain-washed sky.
Despite our faith, we wonder. Then we wait for the rainbow that our faith keeps us searching to see. Then we take tiny faith steps following God’s rainbows of promises through sunny and rain-washed skies.