The weather where we live has been pretty dreary the last couple of weeks. It’s rained almost every day but more than that, it’s been overcast with very little sunshine. I’m not normally a person who pays much attention to this kind of thing but it’s been a little hard not to notice. A portion of our back yard resembles a swamp. The better part of it is like a sponge—you step anywhere and water just oozes out. The forecast for the next few days calls for more rain.
Of course, this is all less than trivial compared to situations other people are dealing with. A friend of mine had his roof damaged by a storm last week and it’s going to have to be replaced. Meanwhile, he’s dealing with water leaking into his house in a number of places. There are those in other parts of the country who lost their homes or even loved ones due to severe weather. So the fact that the sunshine has taken a sabbatical isn’t really that big of a deal. Nonetheless, I can relate to that old Brook Benton song where he says he feels like it’s raining all over the world.
Still, I don’t live in the Pacific Northwest where some areas receive well over 100 inches of rain per year. I live in east-central Alabama where we get about half of that. So the rain won’t last forever and there are many more days of sunshine than rain. And knowing that makes the present gloominess more bearable. However long it hangs around, the clock is ticking and every day that passes is one less day it will here.
I’m not one of those who believe the Scripture sanctions an escapist approach to life. Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension means that He is ruling, the kingdom has come (and is continuing to come), and God is in the process of making all things new. The idea that disciples are to tuck themselves away in a safe place somewhere and wait out the rain until Jesus returns or they pass from this life sounds more like something the Pharisees would come up with. It’s certainly not a biblical concept.
Disciples are to be out and about as the body of Jesus in the world—doing the kind of things that our Lord would be doing if He were physically present today. This means we’ll get our share of bumps, bruises, and perhaps occasionally something worse. But we shouldn’t expect the world to welcome us any more than it welcomed Him and the fact that we often do says something about us I’m sure.
Look, would you really be interested in a book that promised parenting without pain? Would you spend money to attend a seminar that guaranteed to teach you how to get ahead in life or on your job without experiencing any conflict or problems? If the choice was between meaninglessness and suffering—wouldn’t we choose suffering?
Writing from prison, Paul tells the believers at Philippi that “it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him” (1:29). Isn’t it our desire, perhaps often subconsciously, for painless growth and transformation that makes us victims when we should be victors? Think of Peter and John who were arrested, flogged, and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus. You remember their reaction? They rejoiced “because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (Acts 5:41).
Let the rain come! We trust in the One who sends it. Let our life be fully used by God in whatever way He sees fit. We trust in the One who gives it. For this we know—the One who loves us and redeemed us is making all things new.