Dreary weather this morning, and as I type this I hear the cars sloshing through the puddles of Long Lane.
But then, as Tom Lehrer quipped bad weather always looks worse through a window.
Strangely, those who wrote the Bible never seem to complain about the weather.
You get the occasional reference to bad weather, of course, but no more. Like Jacob in Genesis 31 . “I was out in all kinds of weather, from torrid heat to freezing cold, putting in many a sleepless night.”
But this patriarch is complaining about being taken advantage of by his father-in-law Laban, not the weather itself.
It’s partly because weather, like gravity and Everton’s mid-table position, is a given. It’s just there, so get used to it. As Job rails against God: “No one can escape the weather—it’s there.”
For when it comes to the weather – and everything else in creation, God is sovereign. When it rains, it rains at his word. And in the climatic context of the Bible lands, rain is a blessing, especially during autumn and spring
So the Psalmist praises God:
Sing to the Lord with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain
and makes grass grow on the hills.
The whole point about the weather – and the reason we are always talking about it, especially to strangers – is that is it totally out of our control. Here, more than anywhere else, are we as a community aware of our creaturely status.
Of course, humans have always tried to control the weather by trying to placate or manipulate the gods. For the people of Israel Baʿal, usually associated with the storm and fertility god Hadad, was a continual challenge to their trust of YHWH1, especially during drought. Elijah knew all about that.
But the LORD, the God of Israel, brooks no rivals. The weather, whatever it may be, is his alone. It is his gift.
The big question then is do we pray for the right weather, that the sun may shine on our special day – whatever that may be?
Certainly we’ve all been tempted at some stage to ask God to move some clouds for us. Like this coming Sunday, for the sun to shine on our visit to Ainsdale beach following the 10.45 service. But in contrast, this time last week no doubt the Australian test team were fervently praying for heavy rain.
Just asking the question shows that we may each be praying for different weather at the same time, effectively cancelling each other out. Who will God listen to – the bride or the farmer?
It’s on the same level as praying for a parking space – which we all do, own up.
But Australians were actually praying for rain some years ago, officially. During a recent drought the National Council of Churches in that land called for a day of prayer asking God for rain. Whole communities were suffering; there was genuine need. Here is their prayer:
God of compassion,
we wait and watch for your gift of rain
to water the soil and make the barren land come alive again.
We wait and watch for the gift of salvation
to free us from hatred, greed and fear
so that we may live again as people of faith, hope and love.
We make this prayer in the name of our Saviour who comes to be with us. Amen.
Jesus does urge us to pray but we do so realising that we have no claim on God and knowing that our response to any event is always more important than the event itself.
It is simply an exercise in taking God at his word: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). As Christians we share the ups and the downs our lives with God – it is what he wants, such is his love and grace.
Which will lead to a complete change in attitude. So no more moaning. Rather than carrying on complaining, we persist in prayer to God. No concern is too big or more importantly, too little for our heavenly Father.
1The divine name is shown as upper case letters in English translations: the LORD.