As I was driving in a torrential downpour yesterday, I began to thank God for the rain, and I realized that had it not been for the drought we have experienced this year, I would not be thanking God for the rain. I would probably not like it at all. I might even complain because, *gasp*, I might get wet.I mean, as sweet as I am, I must be made of sugar, right?
Seriously though, if it were not for the long drought here, the dead grass and plants and the danger to the farmers, we would not be thankful for the rain. It messes up our summer plans. We want the perfect blue sky, pretty, white, puffy cloud kind of weather. I realize that I am making a broad generalization here. Maybe you love rainy days and dark skies. Forgive me. But, I am not the only one who complains about rain.
I began to wonder why it is that we cannot appreciate the rain until we’ve gone through a drought. I’m not just talking about the physical realm here, though that is definitely true. Think about the spiritual realm for a moment. We are human beings, and like our desire for good weather, we want sunny days in our spiritual lives as well. We want good times, mountain top experiences. We definitely don’t want to walk through valleys or dark nights of the soul. But they are necessary.
You see, if we only experience sunny skies and mountain top experiences, we will not only not learn to appreciate the rain, but we will curse the rain. Complain. Become discontent, unhappy. And we will miss the point. Just as rain helps plants and crops to grow strong and healthy, storms in our lives help us to grow. Trials are not fun in the moment, but they do bring about good things.
Dear brothers and sisters,[a] when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuinenessof your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 6-7
So, you see, we need to embrace the pain. Ok, I know, it’s not easy to do. When we go through trials, our faith wavers.We wonder, where is God in this? But if we remain strong in our faith, we will develop perseverance. We will come through the struggle a much stronger person.
Several years ago, we planted some very young trees in our backyard. They were $10 each at the local nursery. At that price, you can imagine how small they were. Mere sticks. But we planted them, and watered them. And then a storm came. The trees didn’t fare well. They had already been beaten by our children pulling on them. So, they were not strong enough to weather the storm. So, a couple of years ago we decided to try again. We bought two more trees, again for $10 each, and we brought them home. We planted them, watered them and this time we braced them with stakes and rubber ties. It helped that our children were now older and didn’t mess with them. A storm came and I worried that our little trees wouldn’t make it. I really expected the worst. But, when morning dawned bright and cheery, the trees stood strong! They had survived and someday will provide some wonderful shade in the yard.
In order for us to survive the storms in our lives we must brace ourselves by staying in the word. It strengthens our faith to remember the promises and character of God. We also must spend time with other believers because they are an encouragement to us. And when the storms come, and they will, we will be strong enough to stand strong, without wavering, while we wait for the storm to pass.
I have refined you, but not as silver is refined.
Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.
11 I will rescue you for my sake—
yes, for my own sake!
I will not let my reputation be tarnished,
and I will not share my glory with idols! Isaiah 48:10-11
I will bring that group through the fire
and make them pure.
I will refine them like silver
and purify them like gold.
They will call on my name,
and I will answer them.
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ Zechariah 13:9
~There’s No Place Like Home!