It has been raining in my life for several months. It started with a violent storm, but was followed by a dripping, dreary, persistent kind of rain. There were some days of sun, but a charge in the air made me know the rain was not done yet. Then the storm came again, unexpectedly, with thunder and lightening, followed by a relentless downpour. The kind where the wind whips you in the face and the waves threaten to sweep you away. The kind that floods your basement, makes you climb into the bathtub for cover, or curl up under a blanket wishing someone stronger and braver were there. In the middle of this storm, all I can think about is the storm itself, and the damage it is causing and will cause. I cannot see its purpose, its meaning. I cannot predict when it will end or where it will lead. I am powerless against this storm. There is nothing I can do to stop it.
I want to run, to find shelter or painkillers. I want to be delivered, not experienced. I don’t want the temptation and doubt and self-pity. I want to be strong, capable, undoubting. I just want the storm to end, and if it doesn’t, then I want to know where it’s heading, what it is planning, what the damage will be. And yet, I don’t know any of these things, I cannot find shelter, and nothing makes the hurt go away.
I was praying about this a couple days ago as I paced my living room, sobbing in a somewhat unarticulated pain. I was crying to God that he would take the hurt away when this came to mind: “Jesus wept.” I believed this was in the Bible, but did not know where, and could not remember in what context it may have happened. (Turns out, this is found at John 11:35 in the story about Lazarus. I had to look up “wept” in the concordance to find it.) Scholars could debate and have debated the reasons Jesus wept. But what God apparently wanted me to know as I prayed for relief from the pain was simply that Jesus wept. I began to say this aloud. Jesus wept. Jesus wept. I had been saying it for days, but could not arrive at any resolution or solace.
Last night, when I put my daughter to bed, I heard rain pelting the window. This surprised me and then it occurred to me that I had forgotten what the rain brings. As I leaned close to my daughter, who was tucked under her warm covers, I could pray only what was on my heart at that moment:
Thank you for the rain. It reminds us that Spring is on the way, that you are making things new and that life and sun are on the horizon. We love you. Amen.
I remembered then that after Jesus wept, he raised Lazarus from the dead and all who were present saw the glory of God.