Redemption of the Rain
The spring rain patters down on my minivan as I wait in the pick up line at school. My sun-loving heart is saddened by the dreary spring day that surrounds me. Suddenly I remember my sunroof. On sunny days I typically keep it closed to reduce the overhead glare. However, when it’s raining, I open it and watch the water drip and pool above me. It’s a small change in my surroundings but as I look up, I realize I’m smiling now at the falling rain. I’ve found my redemption of the rain.
This is often reflected in my own heart and life. I am an idealistic optimist which means I always assume everything will turn out great. I go into any event or day with not only the hope of good, but an assurance of success. Shockingly this doesn’t always happen! And the “reality checks” of an optimist can feel like the sky opening up and raining down on my perfectly sunny moment. If my focus is to look around me, my heart can quickly become discouraged.
The natural tendency to look around at life’s rain is not new to me. God allowed others to walk this path and record how an adjustment in their perspective changed everything. One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Psalm 73. God used in it my life when I was truly surrounded by a storm.
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Psalm 73. God used it in my life when I was truly surrounded by a storm.
We were in a ministry situation that was volatile, and we had just lost a long-awaited pregnancy. Add to that, I was stuck in a small hospital in Florida as a hurricane blew over. The rain was quite literally and also personally wrecking us. And in that dark season, I found my way to this beautiful psalm.
As the psalm begins, Asaph looks around him and sees the world. The comparison that creeps into his heart was echoed in my own. “How do they have it so easy, Lord? The world doesn’t honor You, but look at how they prosper!” My hurting heart looked around at the injustice of my own suffering as we toiled in ministry compared to the ease of those who hate the Lord. And as I stared at the puddles, they only seemed to get larger. I am thankful God didn’t let me or Asaph stay there. So as I pressed further, I came to the turning point of the psalm and of my own heart’s struggle. In verse 17, the phrase “until I went into the sanctuary of God” changes everything.
Verse seventeen became my personal commitment. I couldn’t quite reconcile my wounded heart to what my head knew and believed about God yet. But I could come into His presence and be with God, tell Him my hurts and ask Him to shorten the distance between what my head knew and my heart felt. Even though the turning point in this psalm is one short verse, this was not a quick process. But by God’s grace, I kept the commitment. And slowly my eyes pulled away from the puddles and began looking up again.
As my eyes went heavenward, the following verses of Psalm 73 reminded me of who God was despite the rain. He holds my right hand (v. 23), guides me with His counsel and has planned eternity with me (v. 24) He is my greatest and only desire (v. 25). He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (v. 26). And His nearness is my good. His nearness. Not my baby in my arms or my health perfectly restored or even ease in a ministry situation. Simply being with God was meant to be my good to the point that there is nothing on earth to desire beside Him. Did that take away the rain? No. It still fell around us. But my eyes went heavenward. And once again, I realized with that small change in my surroundings, I could now smile at the falling rain.
The final verse of Asaph’s psalm says, “But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works” (vs 28). I had been mediating on this psalm for weeks when these last words finally grabbed my heart. I realized that there was a subtle withholding of my praise or a qualifying aspect to His goodness. It was as if my heart said, “Even though you caused this season of rain, I will still tell of your works.” But that isn’t what is exemplified for us. We are to tell of all His works. God is good, right and just not in spite of my seasons of rain, but because of them.
We are to tell of all His works. God is good, right and just not in spite of my seasons of rain, but because of them.
When the Lord finally broke down this last wall in my perception, I found the purpose in my pain. I could look up and see Him fully and allow Him complete freedom to use it.
Years have passed since this season of rain, and God wrote a beautiful story out of it. Not long after that loss, we had the joy of adoption and within a year had a surprise set of twins. During that year God opened the doors to plant a church. The greatest redemption of the rain has been seen in countless opportunities to sit with a sister in Christ who is under her own storm cloud. Whether it’s infertility, miscarriage, multiples or surprises, God has given me an understanding and compassion for those who walk on a similar rainy path to the one He had taken me on. In the midst of my own rain, the God of all comforts drew me to Himself so that I could see that His nearness was my good. He reminded me to look up and fix my perspective. Now when I’m meeting with someone over coffee, I can point them to His comfort not in spite of the rain, but because of it.