For two wonderful days and nights, we have been blessed with rain. Real rain. Not just a shower. Real down pour. It has cooled off 98+ degree temps and humidity. It has filled our wells and soaked the parched earth. I feel better. I am not dripping sweat and I don’t sink. Hallelujah!
The day before the rains started, I was really having it out with the Lord. I was standing on the side of the road waiting for a chappa and absolutely dripping with sweat. I could feel the part in my hair (which was already tender) burning even more. And, it was not the first day of such sweltering heat. It was like the tenth. And I was over it. It’s the rainy season! So, in my mind, as I waited with a friend, I had this mental conversation with Jesus:
“You know, Lord, you made this day. You could have made it a little bit cooler – like even five degrees cooler would be helpful! You can do that. You could make the day cooler right now.”
Jesus, whose reprimands are ever so gentle but straight to the heart, said, “This is the day that the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it.”
Ever so stubborn me: “It’s too hot to rejoice in this day. I want rain. We need rain! The crops are dried up, people are going to starve this year because of the drought! You can make the rain. You could make it rain right now. Why won’t you send the rain?”
And honestly, I didn’t hear much after that. I was too angry and to stubborn to hear anything that He had to say. I was angry about the unending heat. I was angry about the lack of rain. I was angry about the many situations that I find myself in right now.
Rain seemed like such a simple thing for the God of the universe and so even in my anger I continued to pray for rain and cooler temps. I asked my friends to pray for rain and on Monday night big, stormy, full-of-rain clouds rolled in and it rained all night. It rained off and on all day Tuesday and it rained Tuesday night. It’s still raining. I’m so thankful! Yet, I have so many questions about God’s sovereignty. This year’s rice and maize crop are decimated. Food will have to be imported from the north where they’ve had rain or from other countries. The price of the food will go way up. People won’t be able to afford it. People who sell those crops for a living will have nothing. Families – children – will go hungry and be less able to fight disease.
He knew this, yet He withheld the rain. Why? Why did He choose a drought for these people who have so little? We, in the states, could handle a drought so much better. Food prices might go up, but we’d still be able to eat. We’d still be able to fight sickness. Droughts are stressful, but not life threatening.
And, I still don’t have the answers. The Rain-Maker could have sent the rain and saved the crops. He could have prevented another reason that people would go hungry and sick. For that matter He could have eliminated sickness altogether. But He doesn’t. And that’s so hard to accept.
However, I’m finding, even in my own life, in the rubble of the mess around me, that He doesn’t owe me any answers. He has the right to build, and destroy in the way that He knows is best. He has the right to prune the parts of my heart that I want Him to leave alone. He has the right to send and withhold rain. It’s His universe. It’s the heart He created beating inside my chest.
I want to come to a place where I don’t fight so hard against His choices. I want to just fully trust Him. Yet, my humanity rages against His sovereignty. I know that He knows best and I know that He will use these moments of my doubt to build something beautiful in the wreckage of these situations. I know that He loves the people who will starve during this drought year. He loves them! I’m not quite sure how to reconcile His love and His sovereignty some days. However, my misunderstanding doesn’t take away His goodness.
He is good.
Period. End of the sentence. There is no “but” or “however.” It’s a statement.
My Savior – the one who brought me half way around the world – is still real and good. He isn’t oblivious to my needs or the needs of the millions of people in this city. He didn’t forget to send the rain or water the seeds of my heart. But, like Paul, some things He chooses are for us to learn more about His character. The third time that Paul asked for Him to take away his “thorn” Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I’m sure Paul didn’t like that very much. At the moment, the absence of the thorn seemed like a much better prize than His grace. But, I’m pretty sure when it was all said and done Paul wouldn’t have traded the thorn because what He’d received was so much more worthy.
So, I hold my thorns and my questions, and I wait for the downpour of grace. It will come. The rains always come.