Rain Happens (and btw, I’m still thankful and all)

November 25, 2007

A long time back, long before we had kids of our own, I remember talking to a friend who had just had a baby boy. As she stared into his perfect little face with his rosebud lips, she said, “We’re praying for trials for him, so that he can grow closer to God.” At the time I took this as the kind of ultra-spiritual Christian-ese tripe that we Christians sometimes say, never realizing the insidious line of thinking to which she was actually subscribing.

Because guess what? We really really don’t need to pray for the bad stuff to happen. It just kind of…does, you know?

I was listening to Christian radio in the car this past week and found myself singing along to MercyMe’s Bring the Rain

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there’ll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that’s what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain.

I don’t doubt the good intentions behind this song, please understand. And I love the idea that we can bring glory to God, even amidst the worst time of our lives. But I, unequivocally, am NOT going to ask God to bring the rain. He might bring it or He might allow my world to flood with crummy circumstances, or He might bring me an unbroken stretch of sun. He’s God — He can do whatever He wants and I try (and sometimes fail, admittedly) to be okay with that. Life can be full of suffering, far more suffering than I understand in my insulated life, but I sure don’t want any more suffering than I have to endure.

Suffering in and of itself is completely non-redemptive.

God, on the other hand, can redeem suffering. What with Him being God and all.

To make this personal, there is nothing redemptive or good or desired about my mom’s cancer or my dad’s heart problems. Or the health problems and marriage heartaches of my friends. Quite simply, lots of situations suck. And I guess I find it to be a dangerous line of thinking to assign any positivity to suffering whatsoever.

All that said, it is the season for thankfulness, and I feel acutely conscious of my blessings: tremendously supportive (and I mean TREMENDOUSLY) family and friends, great great kids, a husband who hangs tough on the worst days…humor…good books…my six little blog readers (I mean, would it kill some of you lurkers to comment?? I mean, assuming I have a couple of lurkers.)…church…silly things like my cat and two new shirts I love from Old Navy. I find myself appreciating things big and little. And while I’m weary of this recent spate of rainy days, I am ever so grateful for the nearness of God in this time. While I don’t want Him bringing the rain, I sure am grateful for His umbrella.

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5 Responses to “Rain Happens (and btw, I’m still thankful and all)”

  1. Andy T said

    *de-lurk*

    Hi

    *re-lurk*

  2. bethkoruna said

    See, Andy? That didn’t hurt at all. I’m proud of you.

  3. Andy Whitman said

    The rain comes whether we want it or not. It seems masochistic to pray for trials. They come with some degree of regularity, and the regularity increases as we mature (hopefully) in the faith, if for no other reason than we get older and our bodies fall apart.

    So I’m with you, Beth. Surely God can work through the trials. Surely we can look to find God in the midst of the trials. But we don’t need to pray to bring them on. Trials suck. Reading those song lyrics makes me think that the song’s author hasn’t really experienced anything particularly challenging in his life. He should stick around. He will. All he has to do is keep waking up in the morning.

  4. Rhodie Shreve said

    Beth,
    Remember me? I just have to tell you that you are a fantastic writer…I cried when I read the piece about your mother and father. I appreciate your comments and your struggles to understand life in it’s complexity. I spent the past year reading quite a bit about suffering and evil..mostly because I think we are an insulated culture and because we really cannot frame the questions we stuggle with honestly sometimes. I ran across N.T. Wright’s new book called Evil and the Justice of God..not a hard read at all but it gets at things that are present in our reality that we must face and not turn away from…if you put the cross of Christ and the resurrection into the context of suffering and evil, they have much more power to convey hope than the ones we usually frame these things with, ie. our consumer mentality, our self-centered mentality and our “deconstructed” ideas about how nothing matters anyway…all hogwash and terribly nihilistic. You have to end up a cynic about life or be totally depressed about it….but we have an answer that was provided for us, given to us, by someone greater than us….someone who knows this situation like the palm of His hand. And that palm has a nail print in it…..keep on the journey….and keep writing!!!

  5. Beth said

    Hey Rhodie! Yes, of course I remember you. Thanks much for your insights (and compliments :). I’ll have to check out that book…sometimes I struggle with becoming nihilistic and depressed, but it’s not a really life sustaining answer. So I always head back to God.

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