In my neck of the woods, a steady, gentle rainfall has been falling for several days. Years ago, some Midwest farmers would have named this kind of weather as a “million-dollar rain” because it helped assure a bountiful crop, rescuing them from financial ruin.
This week’s precipitation will save crops that have been threatened by a lingering drought. Rural economies will not fail, the land will remain productive and anxiety will recede. This rain will also refresh parched, cracked soil that sustains urban forests, gardens and landscapes. Grime and dirt will be washed away and the air will be cleansed. Ponds, lakes and reservoirs will refill and the water table will rise again.
Human ingenuity has not yet solved the problem of widespread, weather-related calamities. In fact, we’re at the mercy of dire global conditions that have originated in our poor stewardship of the planet. Million-dollar rains are rescues, redemptive gifts from God.
During the time of the prophet Elijah, a three-year drought had brought Israel’s narcissistic King Ahab literally to his knees. Ahab’s god, Baal—supposedly ensuring rainstorms and fertility—had not come through for its worshippers. Elijah’s mockery of their feckless prayers was followed by Yaweh’s demonstration of power over nature. (See 1 Kings 18ff.)
This week’s million-dollar rain restates a similar proposition: Living with the results of our own idolatries—e.g., overconsumption, wastefulness—we can’t rely on them to save us. Instead, this is a time to thank God for a rainy rescue we could never affect. We can turn back to God with humility, admitting our frailties and repenting of lifestyle sins that harm our planet-home.
With thanks in our hearts, we can enjoy this rain—however we measure its worth—and remain focused on serving God and others as best we can.