Sitting on my couch surrounded by comfy pillows, soft light and an apple cider scented candle, I hear the beating of the rain against the side of my apartment building, making gigantic puddles outside in the street below my window. Few sounds rival the bliss of an evening rain with the door wide open to let in the fresh, clean air. The rain does the spirit good. It brings with it refreshment and calm.
Now send me a rainstorm on a Saturday morning when I am hoping to get in a run or a visit to the outdoor farmer's market and my view of rain takes a dramatic turn. I want rain when I want it (while I'm warm and snuggled up at home) and not when I don't want it (while I'm enjoying time outdoors). This is the rain paradox. It is a love-hate relationship.
But the rain is a necessity and it does the earth good. It contributes to the vital hydrologic cycle. This basic earth system contributes to so much of what I take for granted. Every fish that swims relies on the rain to maintain their aquatic habitat. Plants need it to grow and thrive. We need it to for drinking water and our very survival. The rain seeps into the earth, maintaining the health of the soil and life itself! Oh, how different would our world be without the rain! It would be lifeless. It would be dry. There would many more parched throats. And many fish with useless fins.
This must be why God gave us rain - he knew we'd need it. In Isaiah 30:23 it says, "He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful." I may not always appreciate the timing of the rain or the way it makes me look like a wet dog when I get caught in its onslaught, but it is a necessity of life. Without the rain my world would look so drastically different; less vibrant and lifeless. Without rain I wouldn't enjoy the soothing sounds as it lulls me to sleep. And I would never, ever see a rainbow. I need the rain. The earth needs the rain. This world needs the rain.
When God made the rain He knew He was creating something that wouldn't always be welcomed with open arms. He knew that rain would come and disrupt picnics and proms. He knew that rain would get our clothes all wet and make our hair look like we just stepped out of the shower on our way to a job interview. But He made the rain anyway because He has a plan bigger than our hair, our picnics and our proms. He has a plan that includes rain. All kinds of rain. Rain that comes in the form of precipitation and rain that comes in the form of trials and tribulations. He's created them all with a purpose that is for the long term survival of our very being - body, heart and soul.
Sometimes rain comes in the form of an unwanted circumstance. Like the falling of big fat water droplets, we get pounded by something terribly trying and troublesome. It can be an illness. It can be a break up. It can be the loss of a job or the loss of a friend or perhaps simply a set of lost keys. These troublesome circumstance come upon us like rain on our wedding day (think Alanis Morissette). If only the rain could have come on a different day!
But just like the rain that falls from the sky, our rainy days of trials have purpose. They are necessary. They provide us with the testing we need to increase our faith. Without some rain there is little growth in the spiritual life. Without the pouring down of God's good precipitation we wither up and die like a plant parched for water. We need to be drenched with difficulties if we want to see our faith increase, grow and thrive.
Today I was thrilled to see the rain outside my window. It was a welcome change to the days on end of ninety degree heat with high humidity and sticky air. But when I encounter rainy circumstance in my day can I say that I always have the same upbeat, positive, welcoming response?
The emotional rains that call into question my faith and reliance on God lay before me a choice I alone can make: rejoice and dance in the rain...or lament that I can't go out and have a picnic.
I alone can make the decision to put on my rain boots and do some puddle jumping. It is my choice to embrace the rain no matter how hard it falls or how many days on end those dark storm clouds linger overhead. I am compelled to learn to love the rain because it is the rain that has made me who I am and who God intends me to be. I will wither up and die without the rain that God sends my way. So instead of cursing the rain and pulling a blanket over my head in an attempt to escape it, I'm going to go out and dance, sing and jump around. I am going to learn to love the rain.