Monday, October 5, 2015

Jesus, Bring the Rain?

There is a very popular Christian song called “Bring the Rain” by the group Mercy Me. This is the chorus:

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Those last two lines: no. Just no.

First off, God doesn’t “send” bad things into our lives, for any reason. Bad things happen to us because we live in a fallen world, full of fallen people. But God doesn’t send those things to us. They just happen. Asking God to “bring the rain” is heretical, at best, and self-destructive, at worst.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that bad times are God-sent, and so it’s something we can ask for. As someone whose life has had more than its share of “rain” I can say without question: DO NOT PRAY FOR HARD TIMES! Even if “that’s what it takes to praise” God! It sounds so spiritual for someone to say, “I’m so glad I experienced that (cancer, loss of a job, etc) because I’ve learned so much about God and His love!” But, ask the parent who lost a child if they’re glad their child is dead because they’ve gained so much insight into God’s love through coping with it. Ask the husband who lost his wife and the mother of his children to cancer if he is glad his wife is dead, because through her death he learned more about God’s love. The answer would be a resounding “NO!”

It’s certainly true that through hard times we can learn more about ourselves and about God, but you’d be a fool to ask for these difficulties. Certainly, because of learning to cope with my illness, my relationship with God is deeper than it was before I was ill. But, without a doubt, I would still rather be healthy and living my old life than living this one. The life I have now is HARD!!! This life is a battle. Every. Single. Day. I struggle just to get out of bed. I struggle to make it through the day, without wearing myself out. I struggle to keep depression and despair at bay. Do you really want that?  Really?? Maybe I’m not spiritual enough, but I’m NOT glad I’m suffering this undiagnosed illness that has robbed me of my job, my hobbies, my volunteer work, my very health! Yes, I am glad that I have learned wonderful things through this struggle, and I’m eternally grateful to a God who has been able to bring some good out of it, but I am not glad I’m ill and disabled. I’m not glad that this is how my life has ended up. I am not thankful for this illness. I am only thankful for a loving God who has been with me every step of the way, and who daily gives me strength.

Asking for “the rain” to fall in your life is silly and pseudo-spiritual. If you really knew what it was like to face life-altering struggles, you would NEVER ask for them! For me, knowing more of God is not a fair trade-off for my health and all that its loss entails.  Maybe that makes me a poor Christian or not spiritual enough, but I’m just being honest. I would trade my newfound spiritual growth for my old life – in a heartbeat. In my old life, I knew God and His love for me. I walked with God, I served God. Maybe the depth of my knowledge wasn’t as great as it is now, but I certainly lived a spiritual life, even as a healthy person. So why would I want an illness that has taken away so much of my life, just so that I could feel God’s love a bit more? Sorry, but to me it’s just not a fair trade-off.

So, just stop “praying for rain” – it’s just not good theology, and it’s a false spiritual attitude. God doesn’t send you hard times, and those hard times you do end up going through could rob you of your husband/wife, your child, your health. Do you really want to lose those things in your life? No sane person would. And no loving God would send such things into our lives.