It has been some time since we have received any amount of actual rainfall, and when added to the unseasonably hot temperatures, this creates a situation in which plants struggle to survive and farmers lose significant portions of their crops. The health department has been recommending that people stay inside air conditioning and not exert oneself too much while outside. Our whole area has been under an Excessive Heat Warning for much of the week.
Things have largely been inconvenient for my wife and I. We have a window air conditioner in our flat which keeps our living space cool and we have fans to circulate the cool air. I can get on an air conditioned bus to travel around the city; I can turn on the faucet and obtain water with which to drink, bathe, and cook.
Despite the fact that we are on the verge of an official drought, I do not have to feel the immediate effects of the extreme dryness, I have conveniences which can insulate me from them a bit. However, it remains clear that the ground is dry, that plants are dying, and crops are not able to survive the heat and lack of rainfall. When I pay attention, I must admit that despite our abilities and accomplishments we remain wholly dependent upon God’s provision.
This is a lesson that I see continually in scripture: the Israelites wander through the desert and are reliant upon God for food and water; Jesus spends forty days in the desert and is reliant on God for care and eventually for nourishment; Elijah fled to the desert and was fed by angels. Perhaps there is a lesson in the times that rain does not come, not so much a punishment but something from which we can learn. As humans, we are limited. We can fly through the air, send rockets into space, send submarines deep into the ocean. We can cool air in buildings, and pump water straight to one’s home even when there has not been any precipitation.
The heat and dryness is something that we cannot change. We can do things to cope with the heat, we can try to irrigate and water plants the best that we are able, but there are effects that we simply cannot change or undo. Despite all of our accomplishments, despite all of the things that we can do, humans are still not sovereign over our world and humans are not ultimately in control. This hot and dry season has been a lesson for me in the importance and centrality of the providence of God.
As much as I may want to, I cannot bring rain. So I continue to pray that God will bring rain and pray that God will provide relief, I continue to pray that God will open up the heavens which are shut up and heal and restore the land. I wonder, at times, if this is an example of what was meant when the people of God were named Israel: those who strive with God. I do not understand why farmers have to lose their crops, I do not understand why people have to get sick and some even die from the current weather conditions. It is in this hot and dry season that I feel particular kinship with our ancestors in the faith who lived and strove with God in the midst of the desert praying for the same relief that I, and many of us, now pray for. Despite all of the things that change in the world, there remain constants: humans are not in control, and we continue to strive with God.