The sheep have sheltered themselves under the bank barn, chewing their cuds, waiting for the rain to pass before they head out to begin the cycle again. Most of June and July was dry; by the time the rains came 10 days ago, the pastures were looking rough. But the rains came, 4.25 inches over a two-day period. And they’ve come again, just after I thought yesterday how nice it would be for a little rain to come our way again.
I concern myself with the weather; my fortunes are tied to it. Too much rain can be every bit as disastrous as not enough. We soon learn that average rainfall is simply the means of the extremes – there are seldom perfectly average years. Several years back, during a particularly long dry spell, I was commiserating the weather with an Amish friend. “An old man told me once there hasn’t been a dry spell yet that hasn’t been broken up by a rain.” And so, it is. As in so many things in life, timing is everything.
“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous.” So, Jesus’ words recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. I’ve thought a lot about this saying lately. I’ve started to write this piece any number of times, only to back off and wait. I’m not quite sure why, so let’s just say things are still percolating.
Growing up in the environment I was born into, it was easy to come away with the idea that good things happen to good people because they were good. And its necessary corollary that bad people have bad things happen to them. The latter was never explicitly said, simply implied by the positive statement. Yet, we know that is not true. There are plenty of good people who have rotten things happen to them for no reason and there are evil people who seem to prosper.
All this point back to the problem of pain in a theistic world view. If there is an all-loving, all-powerful god, why do good people suffer; why do good people suffer at the hands of evil people? It is a perplexing question with no great answers. Yes, the biblically literate will point to the book of Job; it does give some insights, yet in the end Job’s riches and status are restored, the only answer given to his plight is that the Almighty is the Almighty and keeps his council to himself. And perhaps that is the key to understanding the variances of life.
Sometimes, things just happen. Rain stops falling at the most inopportune times; or the flood sweeps things and lives away in an instant. We are constantly reminded how little control we have over our lives. I endured a customer on Saturday who went on about how he refused to contribute to the United Methodist Church’s fund for illegal immigrants; how his parents did it the right way, etc. I wondered what his tune would be had his parents been undocumented? He is fortunate and blessed, through no effort of his own – he was simply born well. And others?
I know full well that even on my hardest days, I was born into an incredible situation, given an opportunity I never earned. I get to worry about the weather! What a blessing! I have the opportunity to raise good food for people to eat! I get to see incredible things and never need to travel off my farm to enjoy them. Love and life is all around me, even on the dark days, the days with too much rain; the days with too much dust. I am surrounded by grace.
The rain continues to fall, heavy at times. I’ll pick up close to an inch today. The sheep are still under the bank barn, content to watch the rain fall – they live in the moment. Not a bad place to hang out.