It’s dry in the desert. That’s why they call it a desert. On a good year, the Phoenix valley receives only 7″ of rain. This hasn’t been a good year. Until God turned on the faucet last Saturday, it had been 143 days in a row with no rain. The last time water fell from the sky was October 18th. My twins’ birthday. When you’re 5, not seeing something for 143 days can make you forget you ever knew what it was. Annie looked out the window with disbelief and asked, “Daddy, is that rain?”
Rain here is a tease. Sometimes it’s spotty. It might be pouring buckets at your friend’s house a half mile away while you’re washing your car under sunny skies. Rain is especially fickle here during monsoon season. It’s a seasonal weather pattern of hot, moist air that blows up from Mexico during July and August. You see the clouds form in the late afternoon and you think it’s finally going to pour. More often than not, all you get is a dust storm; a wall of wind whipped dirt followed by 12 drops of rain on your windshield. A little mud in your eye as it laughs going away.
Saturday was not a tease. It really rained. The clouds rolled into town, took off their coats and stayed awhile. In a place where the sun shines 330 days a year, a day like this is more than a treat. It’s an event not to be missed. Gray skies. The steady sounds of water dripping off bougainvillea leaves onto the sidewalk. The splash of tires rolling through puddles. The smell of water in the air. The feel of raindrops on your face. The sight of accumulated dust and grime being washed away clean.
I worked the Suns game that Saturday night. Fans came through the doors from the parking garage and the street, coats damp and dripping, no one complaining. When you’ve been dry and dusty for five months, you welcome the shower. Wet rubber soles squeaked on the floor and folks stopped to wipe off their glasses before moving along the concourse. It was easy to see the rain made people happy. It had been 143 days. Now the wait was over. The rain came.
We do a lot of waiting.
In Phoenix, we wait for rain. In Seattle, they wait for sunshine. We all wait in line at the grocery store. Some waiting is expected. No one in their right mind ever goes to the Social Security office or the Department of Motor Vehicles expecting to be in and out in five minutes.
Some waiting we plan for.
It’s waiting when we didn’t plan to wait that is the hardest.
Like waiting for a job when we’ve been unemployed two months after the savings runs out. Waiting for the doctor to say this round of chemo therapy finally worked. Waiting for a baby to place in the nursery that’s been ready, and empty, for years. Waiting for that estranged relationship to be reconciled.
This is the waiting that exasperates and exhausts us. And if we’re honest, it is a waiting that frustrates and angers us. Because deep down, whether we admit it or not, we realize we’re waiting on God. He could do something about it if He wanted to. So why doesn’t He? Why doesn’t He do something? Anything to show us a glimpse of forward progress?
Most of the time we want our waiting to be over because we’re ready for a change of scenery. We want to be delivered from our immediate circumstances. All we can see is what’s in front of us.
God has a different vantage point. He sees the big picture.
Though it pains me to say it, our waiting may be God’s working.
Abraham was an old and childless man when God promised him a son. If it was a hilarious thought that at 75 years old Abraham would be shopping for bottle warmers and a bouncy seat, then it was beyond incredible for him to be in the delivery room at age 100. But that’s what happened. God promised Abraham a son. And delivered on His promise 25 years later. They named him Isaac. It means “laughter”. Being a new dad when you’re 100 is pretty funny.
We can read the account in the book of Genesis and we can wonder about the wait. But God must have had His reasons. Albert Baylis put it this way,
“It appears God wants to do more with Abraham than drop promises on him. Abraham had received an irrevocable promise from God. But being God’s candidate for blessing is not a trip to Disneyland. Because God is going to bless Abraham, he’s going to make him into a man of faith. Because He is going to make Abraham a blessing, God will take whatever time is necessary. And God has never let time bother Him.”
Time bothers us. Time doesn’t bother God.
If you’re waiting, know that God is working. It’s ok to yell and scream about it. It’s ok to wonder how and why. The Bible is full of people who, in the middle of their dry dust wait, threw up their questions to God. No worries. He is big enough to handle them. You may not get the answers you like. You may not get answers at all. But this much is true. God always delivers on His promises. In His time and in His way. And always for your good and His glory.
Hang in there.
The rain is coming.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
– Proverbs 13:12
“The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.”
– Lamentations 3:25
Todd A. Thompson – March 16, 2006