His plan is more than I can know
I’ve been wrestling with God recently. I’ve felt pain and hurt, and so I’ve spent time in thought, prayer, reasoning, and scriptural study to try to make sense of it all. In doing this, I’ve confronted a lot of things I thought I believed solidly, and found them to be lacking. Among these wrestlings, a seemingly rudimentary faith-piece was challenged.
“Do I really believe that God loves me?”
We sing it in Sunday school. We tell our neighbors. We develop our doctrines on it. But do we believe deep down that God loves us and wants our well-being?
When things go wrong, when pain comes, I always start questioning. As the avalanche of accusations fall, I undoubtedly arrive at similar phraseology. Phrases that start out “How could you…”, followed by “If you’re so good, why did you…” leading to the inevitable “If you really love me, you would have … ”
“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number: he gives rain on the earth and sends waters on the fields…” Job 5:8-11 (ESV)
As I was ruminating through these ideas a few weeks ago, I decided to climb a mountain. God spoke to the people in the Old Testament on the mountaintops, so maybe it would be the same for me. I originally set out to climb this short, pretty hill, but as I left my house, I knew I had a bigger climb ahead of me. So I went to one of the larger mountains in Phoenix.
The entire hike was exhausting. I kept talking to God, expecting Him to show up, and expecting something huge when I got to the top. I noticed that there were rain clouds in the north, and as someone who always loves rain, I presented God with a challenge:
“God,” I said, “if you love me, you’ll make it rain.”
As I reach the top, I watch the clouds for a while as I rest. I saw a storm system develop in the north, then start to come south, dissipating as it covers the West Valley. I spent about forty-five minutes at the summit, and although I felt I had some good thoughts as I prepared my descent, I knew something was missing. I still wanted rain. I still felt that God hadn’t answered me, and I thought maybe, just maybe, it was the confirmation of my doubt. God sent no rain, therefore, He doesn’t love me.
“Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not he, O LORD our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.” Jeremiah 14:22 (ESV)
As I came down though, I noticed something else. The wind started to pick up. The sky grew dark. All of the sudden, a storm was approaching the area around the mountain, and it was about to hit hard. I was confused – was I paying so little attention on my way down that a storm snuck up on me? I was a bit distracted as I tried to take pictures of the sunset, and I was trying to watch my feet so I didn’t impale myself on the jagged rocks, but I couldn’t have missed this coming in… could I? And that’s when I realized — I spent all my time looking north, and the storm came from the south.
It rained all night long. Hours after I got home, I stared our the window as it continued to pour down. It rained a third of an inch that night, more than I’d seen in a long time. I laid in my bed, dumbstruck by the idea that God cared enough to send me the sign I’d ask for, amazed that He did it in a way I couldn’t predict, and I felt childish that I’d ever ask.
Please note: He didn’t take away my pain and hurt. I know a lot of people who have prayed “How could you let my mother die,” or “If you were good, you’d take away the cancer,” or “If you loved me, you wouldn’t have let him rape me.” And many of those people have walked away from God, not receiving satisfactory answers.
I don’t know what your pain is, how long you’ve dealt with it, or how many times you’ve asked God to make it stop. He may or may not – I have absolutely no idea why God does things the way that He does. But I have learned this — He wants to rain on you. He wants you to know that He is there in the midst of your suffering. He wants you to know that He’s in control. He wants you to know that your pain isn’t meaningless and your prayers aren’t unheard. He has kept your tears in a bottle, and He has counted all of your sleepless nights. He has promised not to leave you to fend for yourself, but has committed Himself to fighting for you.
I challenge you, whenever you go through fire, ask for rain. If we actually believe that God is love and that He has our best interests in mind, and that He is willing to prove it time and time again, then we have no fear. He will meet you at the depth of your need, and give you the firm foundation in knowing that He is at work.
May you be blessed to experience the sacred rain.