June 15

He named the second child Ephraim, saying, “Certainly God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering. Genesis 41:52

The summer showers are falling. The poet stands by the window watching them. They are beating and buffeting the earth with their fierce downpour. But the poet sees in his imaginings more than the showers which are falling before his eyes. He sees myriads of lovely flowers which shall be soon breaking forth from the watered earth, filling it with matchless beauty and fragrance. And so he sings:

“It isn’t raining rain for me, it’s raining daffodils;

In every dimpling drop I see wild flowers upon the hills.

A cloud of gray engulfs the day, and overwhelms the town;

It isn’t raining rain for me: it’s raining roses down.”

You indeed see the rain. But do you see also the flowers? You are pained by the testings. But God sees the sweet flower of faith which is upspringing in your life under those very trials. You shrink from the suffering. But God sees the tender compassion for other sufferers which is finding birth in your soul. Your heart winces under the sore bereavement. But God sees the deepening and enriching which that sorrow has brought to you.

It isn’t raining afflictions for you. It is raining tenderness, love, compassion, patience, and a thousand other flowers and fruits of the blessed Spirit, which are bringing into your life such a spiritual enrichment as all the fullness of worldly prosperity and ease was never able to beget in your innermost soul. (Streams in the Desert)

I recall vividly the angst of drought in East Africa, and the hopelessness that accompanied failed rainy season after season. Rain is life in Africa. I drove through clouds of dust on dirt roads lined with wilted crops and dying livestock. I wept with villagers in the northern frontier district as we walked around corpses of emaciated cows and donkeys. I remember just as clearly the day the rains returned. They began slowly with intermittent pinging on our metal roof, quickening into steady sheets that swept across the parched land, reviving all in its wake like CPR to a fallen man. We were so overjoyed, my daughters and I skipped outside and danced figure-eights in the downpour until we were water-logged.

Every difficulty holds potential as a blessing for the child of God. With each successive trial we encounter new degrees of God’s love and fresh awareness of Providence. Problems require us to look outside ourselves, and push us into the arms of a loving Father. We fade into useless independence apart from the rain.

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