Spring has arrived. In my part of the world, that means many people are hoping for milder temperatures, gentle spring rains, and new growth after the cold and colorless winter. Most of us love the idea of spring, and the promise it brings. Those soft days of baby birds chirping outside our window as the gentle raindrops roll down; of newly budded trees and flowers opening to the warmth of the sun; the smell of freshly turned earth in gardens and fields; the bleating of lambs and the down of chicks and ducklings; children squealing in delight as they leap from puddle to puddle in their colorful boots; the world slowly waking up in a thousand shades of green..
Of course, it never seems to go exactly like that– sometimes the weather this time of year can be volatile– tornadoes, freak ice storms, sudden heat waves, flooding, or a mix of all of the above in a matter of hours! Chirping birds can’t be heard over the roar of traffic and blaring car radios. The smell of exhaust chokes out the aroma of rich dirt or fresh flowers. The same rain that brings puddles also brings mud and run-off and potholes in the road. And, possibly because we have such expectations of spring, it seems to fly by and disappear almost before it comes. There is a joke that sort of summarizes the unpredictable nature of spring around here– “I love spring in Michigan (or insert another Midwest state)– last year it was on a Wednesday!”
Like the season of spring, prayer holds promise and expectation. God promises to hear our prayers, but sometimes our expectations are not in line with God’s answers. Farmers pray for dry days to plow and plant, and rain to come before and after to soften the earth and water the seeds. Little League players want the rain to come on Monday, and the diamond to be dry by Saturday. School children want the rain to come overnight, so the playground will be dry for recess. Commuters want the rain to fall after they drive to work and before they have to drive home. All may pray for rain, but not in the same way, for the same reasons, or at the same time.
We all want the promise of easy growth, gentle weather, and comfortable routine. But God’s plan may involve blustery days and muddy driveways. God will bring rain, and sunshine, in his time. He will calm the storms and blow away the clouds. He will send us flowers and rainbows, and perfect days for flying kites and playing baseball. And maybe, this year, it will be on Wednesday! But the stormy days remind us of three things:
- God is with us through the storm. He is with us when the rains come; and when the clouds roll back to reveal the rainbow. He knows the pain you feel when you view the storm damage and assess the loss. Even as the seasons change, he has promised to be with us always
- God is stronger than our storms. His ways are wiser than ours, and his plans are better. We may be drenched and covered in mud when we expected to be dry and comfortable, but the race isn’t finished yet. We may fall down, but we’re not out! He can give us the resources and the power to rebuild, renew, and start over. No matter how short (or long) our season of storms, it is only a season– it will pass. Just as winter gave way to spring, spring leads to summer–sometimes overnight; sometimes in fits and starts.
- God is eternal. Storms and seasons are local and temporary. I may be experiencing spring in Michigan, but others are experiencing rainy season in India, or “fall” in New Zealand. It can be sunny here, and snowing in Minnesota, and raining at my cousin’s house in Alabama. And when I am praying for rain, someone close by is praying for sunshine. But someday, and for all eternity, God will be our source of light– there will be no need for storms and seasons, no need to pray for rain.