Living in the Southwest for over 25 years has given me a lot of exposure to weather extremes. It’s not unusual to experience high winds and dust, tornadoes, flooding, heat waves, a string of ten 100-degree days, and, in the past four years, a severe drought.
This drought has felt like the textbook example of the dust bowl days of the 1920s. Cattle are starving, agriculture is suffering, and the economy is languishing. It gives one a lot of opportunity to think about weather patterns, jet streams, and water. It’s definitely on most people’s prayer-list.
Because I know that God is a good God and only blesses His creation, I also know that this lack is not “God’s will.” And I can’t give much credit to the notion that chance is the cause either. While many would say that an adjustment in the jet stream is necessary for rain, this is still an effect rather than a cause.
My prayer has unfolded to me that simply finding a cause for this lack of rainfall is not enough. We have to look deeper into God’s care for His creation and prayerfully understand that an all-good God brings forth all good, and this abundant good will be naturally felt in whatever way meets our needs. That would include balanced amounts of rain to nourish and water the earth.
The Bible story of Elijah praying to break a three-year drought (see I Kings 18:41-45) can open thought to the possibility of rain not being caused merely by material elements, but can be an effect of expecting to see God’s goodness here and now. The book of First Kings teaches us that Elijah prayed to break the drought, and he put his servant on a watch for rain. At one point Elijah instructed him, “Go up now, look toward the sea,” but the servant said, “There is nothing.” The servant was instructed to do this seven times. And all the while Elijah was praying, the servant was looking and expecting. Then, on the seventh time, the servant reported, “[T]here ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.” Then, “the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” Editor's note: The original version incorrectly stated that Ahab was sent to watch for rain.
This fulfillment of God’s promise of care stands for us today, too. It is possible for us to so understand that God governs our well-being, that we, too, will be sustained, as people were in Elijah’s time. Prayerful persistence that acknowledges God as the source of all good and all supply keeps thought on the abundance of His care, not on the threatening lack that is apparent on the surface. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “To calculate one’s life-prospects from a material basis, would infringe upon spiritual law and misguide human hope” (p. 319). Thought kept on the abundance of God does not infringe upon spiritual law nor misguide human hope. Rather, it enables us to calculate our life-prospect from a divine view of existence. We can expect to experience the abundance of His care. We can expect to feel the power of His word commanding forth His good desire for His creation, and thus feel the “raindrops of divinity refresh the earth” (Science and Health, p. 288).
It has helped me to understand that all the goodness in our lives and surroundings has its source in God. Nourishing rain, cattle, crops, vegetation, and birds point to the beauty, balance, and harmony of spiritual reality. As God’s sons and daughters, we are each cared for by God, not dependent upon each other for survival, but dependent upon the one source, God. What is good, then, is not withheld. Rather, it is overflowing and enriching.