Do you like the rain?
Most people I talk to prefer sunny days over rainy ones, in both weather and life, where we associate sunshine with warmth, life, happiness, and prosperity and connect rain with sorrow, gloom, pain, or hardship.
Of course we value sunshine. Of course we dislike or even hate the rain–the discomfort, the darkness, the limitations.
I’d like to examine our attitude toward rain, however. Not so much the dislike or hatred but the surprise that often flinches away from a new trial, another loss, a fresh pain.
We feel a drop and scowl up at the sky. We huddle in the doorway and glare at the drizzle just beyond. We pull over in the middle of a deluge and pound the steering wheel. “Look, Lord, it’s ruining my hair, my clothes, my plans. Aren’t you our good Father? Why is it raining? Why are you letting me get wet? I can’t see, I can’t go anywhere. Where’s the sunshine You promised?”
When it rains, we all–no matter how long we’ve known the Father and studied His Word–can accuse God of breaking His promise.
Exactly which promise, though? Does God’s Word ever predict sunny days ad infinitum for His children?
II Timothy 2:13, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Philippians 1:29 “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
Where did we get the idea that Christian life is a Florida beach 24/7/365?
Nowhere does God promise a life without rain. In fact, He guarantees the complete opposite: a forecast full of showers.
But is rain really that bad? What does God’s Word have to say about rain?
“You visit the earth and water it,Psalm 65:9-10
You greatly enrich it;
The river of God is full of water;
You provide their grain,
For so You have prepared it.
You water its ridges abundantly,
You settle its furrows;
You make it soft with showers,
You bless its growth.”
“Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.”Deuteronomy 11:14
“The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season.”Deuteronomy 28:12
“Who covers the heavens with clouds,Psalm 147:8
Who prepares rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to grow on the mountains.”
“For He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’;Job 37:6
Likewise to the gentle rain and the heavy rain of His strength.”
“You, O God, sent a plentiful rain,Psalm 68:9
Whereby You confirmed Your inheritance,
When it was weary.”
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,Isaiah 55:10-11
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
So we see that
- Rain is necessary for crops and life.
- While sometimes rain is used as judgment, such as in Noah’s flood or the 10 plagues of Egypt, many times rain is simply a fact of life. (God doesn’t punish His children. He may, however, permit or orchestrate difficulties to purify us. See Lessons From Job: Why Do We Suffer?)
- God’s Word is like the rain.
- God prepares and sends the rain.
- God is in control of the rain.
Rain isn’t that bad–in fact, rain is good!
Looking further, here are three specific benefits of rain:
1. Rain gives life
Imagine if it never rained. Ever. Our world would look like Tatooine. Or, in a galaxy not so far away, the Atacama Desert in Chile, where “The desert’s hyperarid core . . . is largely devoid of plant and animal life, save for a few strains of microbial life.”
Plants need moisture in order to grow. In most places, that moisture takes the form of rain, which seeps into the soil and the plants then absorb through their roots.
In our explanation of The Valley’s name, we refer to one of Charles Stanley’s Life Principles: “We learn more in our valley experiences than on our mountaintops.” In other words, it’s the rainstorm more than the sunshine that makes us who we are.
Imagine if you’d never experienced any hardship. Ever.
Now think back on what you’ve learned in life, and see how many of those lessons came from a hardship of some kind.
Just as physical life would be impossible without water, so our spiritual life would be barren without suffering.
2. Rain doesn’t last forever
We don’t live in the state of Meghalaya in northeast India, where it rains every day and “the biggest difficulty . . . is a lack of agriculture . . . and the soil is barren due to the precipitation.” Too much suffering, and we’d be just as useless as that desert.
God knows the perfect balance of sun and rain to produce the perfect amount of growth in His creation.
Then what do we do on those days when we can’t see the sun, when God is silent, when we can’t feel Him?
A. We remember the sun is always there, even if we don’t see it. On cloudy days, we don’t say the sun didn’t come up. We know it’s there, we just say it isn’t shining. In the same way, God is always there, whether we see/hear/feel Him or not.
B. We grow. This is our time to absorb the water we need, to take it into our lives, to internalize what we know and what we’re learning and let it change us in the beautiful, mysterious process called growth (“sanctification” in spiritual terms). When the least is happening on the outside is sometimes when the most is happening on the inside.
C. We wait for the sun to come back out. As I’ve been recently reminded, the Christian life is a life of seasons: seasons of sunshine and seasons of rain. When we’re in a rainy season, we trust God. We hold onto what He’s given us. We cling to His promises and wait for the clouds to pass and the sun to shine again, because it will. It always will.
3. Rain brings beauty
Have you ever seen a rainbow without rain or clouds?
It’s impossible. The reflection and division of light into its separate colors cannot take place without the presence of water droplets in the air. The exquisite beauty of the rainbow can’t exist without the presence of rain.
In the same way, our suffering often yields gold in our lives (Job 23:10) that we would never see in easy times.
So the next time you feel a drop, or you’re waiting in a doorway, or you’ve pulled off the road, stand still. Step out. Roll down your window. Open your hands to collect the rainwater, to hold it back out to God in a praise offering. Because we need the rain too.
Do you value the rain? Have you seen growth and God’s goodness as a result of the hard times in your life? How can you cultivate a spirit of gratitude?