I don't know if today's post is about faith, patience, a cousin to patience we don't talk much about anymore - long-suffering, or maybe just about trusting in God. If you've been there in the long-suffering category, you probably will relate well to our thoughts today.
Several years ago, probably late 2011 given what we all remember about that year, we had gone the longest time without rain that I could recall in my over half a century lifetime. Our state had literally been on fire, thousands of homes lost, millions of acres burned, life-long cattle ranchers left with nothing but the decision to sell all their livestock. Our lake was not the only one, but our lake was all but dry, and we were working feverishly on a plan to pipe in drinking water from hundreds of miles away. It had been so hot, so dry, and we were wondering when it would end.
We had prayed, and prayed, and prayed. I think some with a weak faith had decided praying wasn't going to do any good, while many of us prayed even harder. We got a little sprinkle here or there, but only enough to cool us off, not near enough to make a dent in our problem. We all knew it would rain again, some day, but when? Our trees were dead, our livestock sold and gone, our crops all but burned up and there would be no significant harvest. We were hurting to say the least.
One day, it had clouded up, and looked like the best chance for real rain we had seen in months. I was leaving my house after it began to sprinkle. I got in my vehicle, turned on the wipers to make sure they still worked, and looked out my window at my lawn. I had worked so hard to make it a nice lawn in previous years. I had seen it dry up over the past few months. I had hauled water from a family member's water well just to try and keep my oak trees alive, and both were dead. I had a patch of green here and there in a lawn that used to be lush St. Augustine grass, and I had large patches of bare dirt. There were cracks large enough to twist an ankle in. I had seen this day after day, so there was no longer much sadness over the sight of my lawn, it was just the way it was.
Suddenly, the sprinkle turned to rain, then to real rain, then to an absolute down pour. At first, my eyes just welled up a bit, then that turned to having to wipe away a tear or two, then to an absolute down pour of tears. I just sat there, crying and giving God the thanks that it was finally raining again. After getting that all under control I drove off, driving through town, seeing water running down the streets and almost having difficulty remembering what that looked like. It had been so long.
Long-suffering is showing patience in spite of troubles. I believe we had done that in 2011, it was all too real. We still trusted in God, we were still praying and we had not given up. We knew God would take care of us in His own way and time. We just had to trust and be patient.
Today, are you in some state of long-suffering? Sometimes this term is tied more to a condition caused by others. Maybe today you are running short on patience, or someone is on your last nerve. Maybe you or someone in your family is having health problems that are taking their toll on you as well. Maybe you have a strained relationship with a spouse, child or other family member. Just like waiting for God to send His rain, God will eventually bring relief in some form to us in our other struggles. We must continue to pray for patience, we must be willing to forebear with others in difficult times, and we must have faith that God hasn't left us alone.
We are praying today for people we know are struggling, and people we don't even know, for the problems we know about and problems we don't even know exist, just asking God to grant patience, peace and strength, especially to those of the household of faith, but also to others who are struggling. If this might be you, we are praying for you, and solicit your prayers on our behalf as well. Perhaps we can relate to the father of an epileptic son who is mentioned in the Bible. Perhaps at times we too should pray, "I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). We know, yet we struggle. We serve a mighty God, and He can make it "rain" again.