*photo from getty images
Last week I sat in our home in the suburbs of Houston, Texas and watched helplessly as Hurricane Harvey drowned our city.
I simply didn’t possess the mental bandwidth to make sense of the devastation all around me. If you watched any news at all the past nine days, then I don’t have to tell you what the citizens of this city have endured. Entire portions of the city under water.
The floodwaters relentlessly rose and there was no end in sight. Each night when I laid down to sleep, the rain beating down incessantly on our roof, I would pray, “Please God. Just make it stop. Please just stop the rain.”
And still the rain fell.
I had the feeling that I had been here before and that there was something I needed to remember. I went browsing back through some of my old writings and found this, which I wrote over three years ago. As I read it, tears poured down my cheeks. I remembered that season of struggle. Of how hard it rained.
And then finally I remembered the God who saw me through it.
I wanted to share these words today in the hopes that it speaks to those of you currently enduring a storm of your own...
Today it rains. It rains and it rains and it rains.
Last week at this time, I could barely even imagine the rain. It was hot and clear and bright. It had been that way for days and felt like it would hold that way forever. And then yesterday it started raining - not a slow and easy drizzle, but a fierce and angry downpour - and it hasn't stopped since.
I look out the window as I'm typing these words, and the rain shows no sign of ever stopping. The sky is dark, the clouds roll and the thunder shakes. At some point this morning I wondered aloud, "I wonder if it will ever stop raining?" Jacob, my 4 year old with the squeeze 'em tight chubby cheeks, was quick to point out that God had promised the rain would stop. And that's what it took for me to remember that he was right.
God had promised the rain would stop. Right there in Genesis 9. I was grateful for the reminder. Seems like I am always forgetting.
That the rain will stop.
That our circumstances will change.
That the clouds will roll back and reveal clear sky once again.
We're coming out of a long season of rain. Or drought. However you want to look at it. Point is, it was a four year season of the same struggle year after month after week after day. It poured down on us and we wrestled against the weight of the storm.
We prayed that the rain would stop. We chased after clear skies. We hunkered down with our shoulders pushing into the wind and just kept trudging onward. We tried to pretend that the rain wasn't so bad, that maybe it was, in fact, exactly what we needed. At times we merely gave in to the rain and allowed it to overtake us. We cried, we begged, we exhausted our own resources, we shook our fists at the heavens and demanded, "Why won't you just stop the rain?!" We wavered between believing that He could and doubting that He would. It rained and it rained and it rained.
And then one day the clouds rolled back and clear skies were revealed. The sun shone. And the rain? It simply disappeared.
It's been a week since that particular storm ended and I'm just now sitting down to reflect on these last four years. I thank the Lord for the clear skies, which are more beautiful than I even remembered. I thank him for his amazing faithfulness, which constantly astounds me. I mourn the fact that this storm revealed more faithlessness in my heart than I would like to admit. There were so many times along the way that I forgot God's promises to me. That I was loved. That he was present and aware. I couldn't see outside of our present circumstances enough to see the good hand of God in the midst of it all. I questioned His heart for us and His intentions toward us. I ached as I weighed the veracity of His promises against life as we knew it.
And then this morning, as it rains, this verse sits before me
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45
God indiscriminately gives sun and he indiscriminately sends rain. We all get both. Matthew Henry explains the verse like this, "These gifts of common providence are dispensed indifferently to good and evil, just and unjust; so that we cannot know love and hatred by what is before us, but by what is within us; not by the shining of the sun on our heads, but by the rising of the Sun of Righteousness in our hearts.”
When I read Henry’s words, like the skies overhead, my mind finally began to clear. Somewhere along the way, I can’t tell you where, I began interpreting the rain as some sort of punishment. As a sign to us, from God that we were messing up somewhere. That we had made a wrong turn along some predetermined route. I kept thinking that when we got things “right” God would bring clear skies and move in our favor. But here’s what we have to know:
The Father’s heart toward us cannot be discerned by the peace in our circumstances but by the peace we have in His presence.
We cannot look to our outward circumstances to determine the goodness of our God and His satisfaction with us. I’m afraid the prevalence of the prosperity gospel has robbed us of the Gospel’s good news. It’s told us that since God is good, then as long as you are good, then everything around you should be all good.
But hear this: Your outward circumstances have nothing to do with the sure state of salvation in Christ.
And that is incredibly good news.
His provision exceeds your most dire need and wins your fiercest battle, but how on earth would we know that if we didn’t face a storm every now and then? When we keep this mind and hold it tight to our hearts, we get the chance to see the storm for exactly what it is - just another means through which He displays His glory.
Hold tight, my friends. He sends the rain, and He’ll just as surely send the sun.
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