Weather reports are now ubiquitous. Phone apps will give instant weather information, from anywhere, to anyone who carries a smartphone around day or night and wants to know. Some TV stations provide weather “on the 1s” (or whatever chosen minutes), meaning that at one minute, 11 minutes, 21 minutes, etc., past every hour, you’ll get a summary of your local weather. Then there’s the Weather Channel, endlessly presenting weather reports and documentaries from all parts of the globe.
It is ironic that this is occurring at a time when increasing numbers of people are so involved with their electronic devices and lives that they seldom venture outside except to travel from one indoor venue to another. Thus, whether it’s raining or sleeting, whether a snow- or thunderstorm is imminent, it doesn’t matter much. The important thing, apparently, is that the information is there should they want it.
The weather has loomed large in my mind lately and has been a subject of my prayers: it’s been two months since it rained at all here. The grass is brown; unwatered plants have long since died. The ground won’t admit a shovel. Farmers who can’t afford to irrigate suffer. They’re losing their crops – their livelihood. There are numerous vegetable growers and hundreds of acres of orchards and vineyards in the region. It’s unlikely that anybody here will go hungry should the drought be severely prolonged, but it will certainly cause hardship for some. And so we pray that God will relent, be merciful and send rain.
A living creation
I’m a gardener. It’s not hard to water my plants. And I can keep my small fish pond topped up, and fill the bird feeders (there are no grubs or worms available now, and not many insects). Squirrels and chipmunks horn in on the feeders, and we let them. Recently we had new soil brought in to cover a 40-year settled lawn and ground-level roots. (Bad timing!) We don’t normally water our lawn, but I’ve had to have a sprinkler going at intervals to germinate the new grass seed. The robins act ecstatic. They literally frolic, jumping about in the water. They are praising their Creator by doing – being able to do – what he intended them to do.
Recently Ed and I read the Old Testament story of God’s withholding rain for three-and-a-half years, in Elijah’s time, because of Israel’s following Ahab, “who did what was evil in the sight of the Lord,” into blatant idolatry. Famine was a result. There are two references to this in the New Testament. Clearly the drought was a divine judgment. Centuries earlier, God had also used drought and famine in Canaan to raise Joseph to prominence in Egypt and to bring Jacob and all his family to live there. The Bible states repeatedly that God controls the weather in his world, and uses for his purposes as well as ours.
Many modern people roll their eyes at the “naive” thought that God has anything to do with the weather. We know all about why it rains or why it doesn’t! True. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that behind weather science is the God who established the laws that form that science. God is still providing food for us and the rest of the living creation – and still withholds that food – for his purposes. He blesses us but also tests us; and sometimes disciplines and punishes. Sometimes the “why” seems clear; then again it’s impossible to decipher. But we can be sure that, in good weather or bad, our gracious God is still governing the universe he created – for his glory and our ultimate good.
The LORD covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. He sends his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly. He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes. He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow . . . . Praise the Lord!
– Psalm 147: 8-9, 15-18
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