Recently, my four-year-old daughter Grace has been praying that it will "never, ever, ever, ever, ever rain anymore". I smile at her innocence and I can't help but imagine that God is smiling down on her as well.
I've tried to explain to her that we need the rain to make the flowers grow. However, there's no point in arguing with her. In her wisdom, she has it all planned out. "Everyone can just put their flowers in pots with dirt," she reasons, "then, they can bring them inside and pour water in the pots." I don't have the heart to tell her that without rain there would be no water at all. She'll learn the scientific explanations of evaporation, clouds and rain soon enough.
While it's easy to smile at Grace's innocence, I can't help but wonder how many times I, in essence, have prayed the same prayer. How many times at the brink of a crisis have I prayed, "No, God, not now. Please spare me of this trial." How many times have I prayed for sunny weather, pleasant circumstances and smooth sailing?
I understand why little Grace doesn't want any more rain. It's cold, gray and dreary. She can't play outside, everything gets wet and our basement floods. I understand why she doesn't want rain, because I don't want rain either. I don't want crisis. I don't want tragedy or trial. Yet, Jesus tell us in Matthew 5:45 that God "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous".
Even though I have prayed that God would spare me of the rain, I know that the Bible tells us to "consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2)
I need trials in my life just as much as the beautiful flowers need rain. I need low points and valleys to build character and strength. I need the rain to cleanse my life of guilt, sin and destructive behavior. While I'm not quite strong enough to consider those things joy, I think I'm ready to quit praying for God to stop the rain.
I know Grace will be heartbroken the next time we're hit with a downpour. She won't understand why God didn't answer her prayer the way she wanted. When that happens, I will hold her close and tell her again how much we need the rain. I hope that someday she'll see that God's wisdom is far greater that anything we could ever imagine.
Then, I think I'll take her little hand in mine, lead her out into the open and dance with her as the rain pours down our faces.
"For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord;
I sing for joy at the works of your hands.
How great are your works, O Lord,
How profound your thoughts!"
(All scripture is from the NIV)
2004 Copyright, Lisa D Beaman