Jo Acharya | November 24, 2021
They say the Eskimos have fifty words for snow. In the UK I think we probably have at least fifty words for rain. Over here it can be drizzling, spitting, pouring or chucking it down. We have light showers, torrential downpours, sheets of rain, driving rain, sideways rain. The Scots have bleeters and the Cornish have drisks. Where I am we say things like “Nice weather for ducks!”
We’re so used to rain in these islands that we take it for granted and even begin to view it as a bit of a curse. Rain, again? What we crave is sunshine and continental warmth – but not too much or we’ll start moaning about that too!
So it was from my deep-seated Englishness that I laughed out loud reading this verse in Proverbs: “When a king’s face brightens, it means life; his favour is like a rain cloud in spring.” (Proverbs 16:15) A rain cloud in spring? That doesn’t sound like favour to us Brits!
Is rain a blessing?
Of course, the book of Proverbs wasn’t written in soggy England. It was written in Israel, and rain is a different story there. I chatted last weekend with my friend Emma, who has been living there, and she told me that the day we spoke was the first properly rainy day they’d had since last winter.
Dan and I visited Emma in Jerusalem in 2019. It was May but the heat was July heat. Blue skies and blazing sunshine, relentlessly dry. It was beautiful and fertile in a whole other way, with olive trees and aloes growing out of the dusty orange ground. But when we returned home I was knocked out by the lush layers of green all around me, which of course are the reward of our damp climate. I realised why the Bible treats rain as a sign of blessing. The ancient Jews had all the sun their crops and livestock needed. What they craved through the long arid months was the blessing of rain.
So what is the spiritual meaning of rain in the Bible? Here are a few examples.
The blessing of rain shows God’s faithfulness in providing for his creation.
Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.
God’s presence with us is refreshing and life-giving, like rain.
Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
God’s teachings are nourishing like rain, giving us what we need to grow.
Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.
God pours out his Spirit generously onto us like rain, to reinvigorate and transform us.
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.
So yes – rain is a blessing!
April showers, nourishing rain, the satisfying downpour after a hot dry summer: God’s favour can be seen in all these. Each spot of drizzle is an occasion to give thanks for his provision, his presence and his Spirit’s power at work in our lives.