Rain today. Lots of it. Nothing like the damaging rain in Texas. No, this is a day-long tropical rain. It’s wonderful. I make a cup of mint tea and sip it while I work through a digital pile of emails. I love rain in the tropics. The air is cool and fresh. Today I am reminded of why the rain in my previous desert home in Africa was so traumatic for me. I grew up in the tropics and that is a very different situation than rain in a dirty desert city! Here’s an excerpt from my devotional book Villa in the Hilla.
If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13
It was raining! I love rain! The thunder was rumbling, the wind was blowing and we were safe and warm inside. I was raised in the tropics of Southeast Asia and I LOVE the rain. Here I was living in a desert in Africa, and I was so pleased that I would still get to enjoy rain! I could almost smell the refreshment that it was sure to bring come morning. The rain was earlier than usual in this desert town, and the storm stronger than usual. There were sure to be a few broken limbs on the ground and items scattered in the yard by the strong wind.
We had not been in our new home very long and I was feeling culture shock. Everything was new and different and most things seemed very hard to deal with as well. Life was just rough there, and I was feeling a little battle-scarred. I felt that the rain was good for my soul. Like comfort food to a hungry stomach.
The next morning, filled with joy over the rain, I hurried to the front door. I threw open the doors, my mind already imagining the fresh green of the newly washed trees and bushes, the smell of grass and the damp, still, peaceful, warm “after-ness” of a beautiful rain. It was my first real “rain” experience of our desert country. And when I opened the door, I did not see what I expected…
Apparently the storm had taken the birds by surprise. When I opened the front door I did see our front yard, and it was washed clean of the dust, and yes, there were leaves and some broken branches. But mostly what I saw was dead birds. Dead birds were scattered all over our yard. One half-dead bird twitched at my foot right there in the doorway. It was the most sudden and cruel fall from an emotional high to an emotional low. I couldn’t believe it. Rain was supposed to be beautiful, but in my new home, it was HORRIBLE! Could anything be beautiful in this place?
Years later, after I had grown accustomed to the unpleasant rains in our town, I would joke with my African friend. We’d say that God only sent rain once a year to this country. Every “rainy season” He’d send rain and then the awful smell of trash and urine that stirred up in the muddy streets would rise to heaven and God would say, “Oh yes, now I remember why I don’t send rain to that country!” Well, now, of course we didn’t believe that story at all, but we enjoyed laughing about it.
While the rain had some benefits, it surely did have a lot of negatives, not the least of which was the awful stench and the city’s lack of draining that caused lakes to form across the roads all throughout the city.
Never again did we experience the dead bird ordeal of that very first rain. But it will always be in my memory. I tell it as a funny story now, but at the time that I felt so very low, there was still a “lower” to fall to. I often found myself in that situation. Just when I thought things couldn’t possibly be worse, about five more terrible things would happen, leaving me feeling like the proverbial cartoon character with stars and whirls swirling around my head. The fact is, that even in those “lower than low” times, God never left me. I cannot testify to my faithfulness to Him in all things, but I can testify that He was always faithful to me, come rain or shine!