I normally do not have much reason to think of hail. While I am not sure how common hail is as a condition overall, it is at least in my experience a fairly rare or fairly minor occurrence in my life, and so it is not something that tends to cross my mind. For most people, like me, hail comes up in my mind primarily in the context of Exodus 9:22-26, where hail was one of the plagues that ancient Egypt suffered as a result of the judgment that had come upon them: “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt—on man, on beast, and on every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt.” And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire darted to the ground. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, so very heavy that there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail struck throughout the whole land of Egypt, all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail.”
Now, I must note at the outset that we have not received hail to that extent where we are. All the same, though, twice this past week we have had hail to a large enough degree that it has flooded the streets and made it difficult to drive and made the yards white where I live on both Tuesday as well as in the period while I was getting ready for Passover and driving there. If the plague of hail that we had was not quite of biblical proportions, it is striking to be seeing large amounts of hail in a way that hinders driving and walking and other forms of transportation. And, from what I have seen, the hail seems to have been focused on the West side of Portland on both days.
What is the response of people to plagues and trials? The Bible frequently refers to various plagues or conditions as being a sign of God’s judgment on wicked people. Yet in our contemporary age, despite references to acts of God, we tend not to see the hand of God in the suffering that we face, nor do we see trials as an opportunity to repent and return to God. All of this would certainly be possible, but is just not something that we think to do as a society. It is hard to think of who would be to blame for hail, but given the tenor of the times we could find plenty of people who blame it on systematic racism or sexism or other imaginary causes for the woes of humanity. What say you? What do you blame when woes happen? Do you blame yourself, blame the systems of humanity, or what?