Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I Used to Hate the Rain

It's supposed to rain sometime today. My usual response would have been something negative. I never liked driving in the rain. And I never liked being rained upon. Go for a walk in the rain? No thank you. Watching the rain from inside, seated near the fireplace we don't have, bundled nicely in a blanket...ok, that doesn't sound half bad. But overall, I hate to admit, I'm a big whinny baby when it rains.

Yes, I used to hate the rain.
Until I read this:


The Great Work of God: Rain

A Thanksgiving Meditation

By John Piper November 19, 1998


Job 5:8-10

But as for me, I would seek God, And I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth, And sends water on the fields. Job 5:8-10

If you said to someone: "My God does great and unsearchable things; He does wonders without number," and they responded, "Really? Like what?" would you say, "Rain"?

When I read these verses recently I felt like I did when I heard the lyrics to a Sonny and Cher song in 1969: "I'd live for you. I'd die for you. I'd even climb the mountain high for you." Even? I would die for you. I would even climb a high mountain for you? The song was good for a joke. Or a good illustration of bad poetry. Not much else.

But Job is not joking. "God does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number." He gives rain on the earth." In Job's mind, rain really is one of the great, unsearchable wonders that God does. So when I read this a few weeks ago, I resolved not to treat it as meaningless pop musical lyrics. I decided to have a conversation with myself (= meditation).

Is rain a great and unsearchable wonder wrought by God? Picture yourself as a farmer in the Near East, far from any lake or stream. A few wells keep the family and animals supplied with water. But if the crops are to grow and the family is to be fed from month to month, water has to come on the fields from another source. From where?

Well, the sky. The sky? Water will come out of the clear blue sky? Well, not exactly. Water will have to be carried in the sky from the Mediterranean Sea, over several hundred miles and then be poured out from the sky onto the fields. Carried? How much does it weigh? Well, if one inch of rain falls on one square mile of farmland during the night, that would be 27,878,400 cubic feet of water, which is 206,300,160 gallons, which is 1,650,501,280 pounds of water.

That's heavy. So how does it get up in the sky and stay up there if it's so heavy? Well, it gets up there by evaporation. Really? That's a nice word. What's it mean? It means that the water sort of stops being water for a while so it can go up and not down. I see. Then how does it get down? Well, condensation happens. What's that? The water starts becoming water again by gathering around little dust particles between .00001 and .0001 centimeters wide. That's small.

What about the salt? Salt? Yes, the Mediterranean Sea is salt water. That would kill the crops. What about the salt? Well, the salt has to be taken out. Oh. So the sky picks up a billion pounds of water from the sea and takes out the salt and then carries it for three hundred miles and then dumps it on the farm?

Well it doesn't dump it. If it dumped a billion pounds of water on the farm, the wheat would be crushed. So the sky dribbles the billion pounds water down in little drops. And they have to be big enough to fall for one mile or so without evaporating, and small enough to keep from crushing the wheat stalks.

How do all these microscopic specks of water that weigh a billion pounds get heavy enough to fall (if that's the way to ask the question)? Well, it's called coalescence. What's that? It means the specks of water start bumping into each other and join up and get bigger. And when they are big enough, they fall. Just like that? Well, not exactly, because they would just bounce off each other instead of joining up, if there were no electric field present. What? Never mind. Take my word for it.

I think, instead, I will just take Job's word for it. I still don't see why drops ever get to the ground, because if they start falling as soon as they are heavier than air, they would be too small not to evaporate on the way down, but if they wait to come down, what holds them up till they are big enough not to evaporate? Yes, I am sure there is a name for that too. But I am satisfied now that, by any name, this is a great and unsearchable thing that God has done. I think I should be thankful - lots more thankful than I am.

Grateful to God for the wonder of rain,

Pastor John


© Desiring God

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

9 comments:

Karly said...

I love the rain. And, I will now consider it a "indescribable" blessing and enjoy it for what it is-- one of God's incredible miracles. Because, my goodness, a lot must happen in the sky so that I get to enjoy a lazy, calming afternoon watching it all pour down outside. It is no short of a miracle, and especially so here in AZ. :)

Val said...

I love summer rain...standing on the porch, the cool air moving through taking some of the heat with it....the sounds of thunder and lightening flashing across the dark sky,
There is just something about a summer storm that seems to be calming.

Dillo said...

That was enjoyable and thought provoking! I thought there'd be a Mercy Me reference in there somewhere though :)

Melissa said...

That was a wonderful read...to think that for all these years I have taken for granted such a wonderful miracle...an indescribable blessing...given to us from our Father above. And after months of no rain here in South Australia...I would LOVE to see the rain falling!

By the way I only read this post this morning after I had posted a letter on my Mum's blog talking about...you guessed it...God's provision of water and rain that she has been experiencing in Colombia! So I went back and added the Job verse to the post :D

Thanks again for the thought provoking and God praising post!

Joshua said...

I love the rain.It brings happy childhood memories.
Thank you for the visit at my WW post!

Gellianne said...

What an inspiring post! Thanks for sharing.

The Bee said...

The Bee cannot fly when it rains. But, I love watching the rain drops.Great post!

Mica said...

We used to take a bath under the rain when we were kids!

Bunny Trails said...

Thanks for sharing - what a wonderful thing to consider! I love the way that God continually reveals Himself to us in new and amazing ways. I know that I will enjoy the blessing and miracle of rain even more now. :D