It’s been a while since we’ve had much rain in northwest Alabama. Right now, we’re in a drought condition. Given that we have a number of farmers in the church, I thought I’d look at rain from a theological perspective.
This definition of drought is from the United States Geological Survey. “Drought: Dryness due to lack of rain (Duh! Sorry.)… An absolute drought is a period of at least 15 consecutive days to none of which is credited 0.01 inches of rain or more. A partial drought is a period of at least 29 consecutive days, the mean daily rainfall of which does not exceed 0.01 inches. A dry spell is a period of at least 15 consecutive days to none of which is credited 0.04 inches or more.”
That was too technical for me, so I called Shane Isbell for a farmer’s definition of drought. He said: “When I can see all my hard work going out the window and all I can do is pray… that’s a drought. God’s timing is perfect (Regarding rain), but that is hard for me to say right now. But… it had never rain when God flooded the earth!” There’s nothing like a farmer to make things easier to understand. Not only that, they are great examples of faith and hope in God rather than superstitious rain dances of times past.
As bad as it may be right now, it could be… and has been… worse! At the present time Australia is experiencing the worst drought in 1,000 years. The drought in Brazil is having a devastating effect. In 1869 the worst droughts in America took place in 1749 and 1762. Then there was “The Dust Bowl,” drought that extended from 1934 to 1941 and affected two-thirds of the country, from the Rockies to the Appalachians. Two of the driest years on record in the U.S., 1934 and 1936, occurred during this time (Comment: And no one knew or thought anything about “Global Warming!”).
So as bad as it is here and today, it could be worse!
There are droughts in the Bible that resulted in famines. The most notable is in Genesis 41 where 7 years of plenty were followed by 7 years of famine. Then there is the drought that came about as a result of Elijah praying. For 3 years and 6 months it didn’t rain so much as a drop on all the earth! The he prayed again and rain fell in torrential form. And don’t miss the point made in James that Elijah was a man, just like us… which means we have access to the same God he did who is in control of the weather!
But there is another situation when drought occurs. And this one might be worth taking note of as believers. Maybe… just maybe… this is a whisper from God for us to examine ourselves and our walk with The Lord. Consider what is written in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14…
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 IF My people who are called by My name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ESV
Is it possible that God uses weather to get His people’s attention? I know the passage above is primarily dealing with Solomon and Israel’s future, but there is a principal there worth noting. God’s people are to be praying people. His house is to be a house of prayer (Isaiah 56:7 and Matthew 21:13). Are we? Is it?
Apart from Jesus, NOTHING happens (John 15:5). Throughout history, God has chosen to use the prayers of His people to perform great and mighty things. Revival comes as a result of God answering prayer. National leaders govern wisely as a result of God answering prayer. Families are healed as a result of God answering prayer. People are healed physically as a result of God answering prayer. Lazarus was raised from the dead as a result of God answering prayer. Christians are led by God as a result of God answering prayer. And weather changes as a result of God answering prayer!
In a recent post I talked about the idea that people don’t pray until they are desperate. Now I’d like to suggest the possibility that God puts us in desperate situations SO THAT we will pray… SO THAT He will answer our prayers… SO THAT He is glorified. Think about that in terms of whether we are desperate enough (yet) to pray. Apply that possibility to your own prayer life. Reflect upon the idea that maybe if we’d recognize now how dependent we really are upon God we’d pray more… or maybe we WOULD pray period.
Right now there isn’t much rain in the forecast… but as Shane pointed out… there wasn’t rain in the forecast when God flooded the earth. And there wasn’t rain in the forecast when Elijah prayed either… but it still rained. God is not bound by meteorological forecasts… He controls them!
Desperation is the seed for prayers that turn people to seek God. So maybe… just maybe… if we’d pray more we wouldn’t have to be made desperate by God. Maybe… just maybe… the real issue is not that it hasn’t rained, but that we need to pray… repent… and walk closer to our God, The Maker Of Heaven And Earth.