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Column: What the rain brings

 “Were you angry with the rivers, LORD? Was your wrath against the streams? Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high.” Habakkuk 3:8,10

It’s almost as if Habakkuk lived here in southwest Minnesota, isn’t it? As if he could see the rivers and streams rushing by, the torrents of water scouring the land.

I like rain … or I did. Now I’m not so sure. I’ve even prayed for rain, for months now, seeing the level of the lakes, worrying about our well. ...  Now I’m praying for it to stop.  

It’s been so dry for so long that I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to see our stream overflow its banks. To see the rain gauge actually measure rain rather than gathering dust. As the deluge progressed, I found myself looking out the window every 10 minutes, unable to tear myself away from the spectacle taking place in the back yard: the stream creeping across the grass, devouring the asparagus with muddy, cold fingers, forcing the beavers from their dam and the turtles from their hidey holes. Our normally passive, unimpressive stream became a multi-dimensional river, rushing into Iowa.

As the rain continued and showed no signs of stopping, suddenly the roaring stream wasn’t just interesting anymore … it was a little scary.What started out as thanks to God for the desperately needed rain became a plea for safety.  

Am I as finicky as a cat? Asking for rain one day and begging for it to stop the next? Am I never happy with what I have, always trying to reach that patch of green grass on the other side of the fence? Or am I demanding and spoiled, wanting God to do things the way I think they should be done?  

The truth is, we live in a fallen world, and that means that bad things happen. The perfect Eden God created was ruined a long time ago and now we are left to slog through the flood waters of our lives. And that, of course, begs the question: will we flounder, or will we float? When the deep roars and lifts its waves on high, will we come through it bitter and angry and afraid? Or will we be better for the scouring of our souls?

It’s easy to say that we must “rejoice in everything” — to “look on the bright side” — to spout off scripture that admonishes us to trust God.  But the fact remains that we have a choice.

I have a friend from college who, at the time, was going through a very difficult patch of life. The flood waters were overpowering her and she had every human right to flail and scream and fight. But she chose, instead, to trust. It was she who pointed out Habakkuk chapter three to me. Yes, the waters were roaring, but Habakkuk — and my friend — didn’t let that destroy them.  

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk 3: 17,18.

Realistic in the face of the flood? Yes. If we choose.

Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in rural Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, runs monthly.