Into each life some rain must fall

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary. – Longfellow

It’s a bit rainy and dark and dreary here in Southern California today. After a hot 89 degrees on Thanksgiving Day, I’m thankful for cooler weather and some long overdue rain to water our drought-ridden land.

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Into each life some rain must fall. Have you ever been going through a really dark time and someone quotes that line? Don’t you want to just smack someone? Really. Why MUST some rain fall? Why must we have dark and dreary times in our lives?

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The writer of the book of Hebrews said,

“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.” – Hebrews 6:7

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Richard Rohr, in his book, Falling Upward, writes about the concept of the “second half of life.” He says that we spend the first half of life (or for some, our whole lives) trying to figure out who we are and what we are supposed to be doing. We’re figuring out what kind of “container” we are. But some of us are led by the mystery and Grace of God into the second half of life, where we are figuring out what our container was meant to hold. The interesting piece of this though, is that he says we can’t experience the second half of life without being led there by God. And, we can’t experience it without experiencing struggles and failures and difficulties.

Yes and Amen.

Over the past ten years or so, I have experienced some significantly difficult times in my life. Divorce, financial devastation, distress over choices my children make. At times, I felt like I couldn’t possibly recover. I leaned hard and heavy on friends and family, but most especially, I leaned on God. What I found was that God did not rescue me from my circumstances. And you know what? He most likely never will. However, what I learned as I traveled the road full of thorns and thistles was this,

God was with me in every circumstance.

He didn’t wipe away my troubles, but he wiped away my tears through encouraging words spoken in many places and many ways. He didn’t change my circumstances, but he changed me by using the darkness to remake me. He didn’t rescue me from my choices. He didn’t wave a magic wand and make everything go away. He patiently, lovingly, led me through the dark and dreary rain, and eventually showed me that the sun was still shining behind the dark clouds.

I’ve grown to appreciate the dark and desperate times in my life, because without those times, I would never have experienced what Rohr calls the “second half of life.” I call it God’s “recycling” of all the stuff I’d rather throw away into something good and useful and purposeful. It’s a place that I can look back at and see the steps and stages along the way and know that God used it all to grow me into something better.

When we are the “land that drinks in the rain often falling on it,” we are making an active choice to allow the rain – the dark and dreary – to produce something in us. A “crop” as the writer of Hebrews puts it, that is useful to those for whom it is farmed. The Holy Spirit is the farmer. He wants to make us useful as a mirror of the image of Christ to a dark and hurting world. Only by allowing the rain to fall and drinking it in during the dark times of life, can we enter into that place of experiencing what our “container” is made to hold.

I am so thankful for a God who sees the big picture – the sun behind the clouds in my life. How about you?

 

 

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