we are experiencing a severe drought in our part of the country. grass is brown; trees, especially small ones, are dying; livestock and wildlife are in dire straits. in many areas, though not in our town, water is being rationed. we are beginning to hear calls for prayer services to implore God to send rain.
as i rode on my morning bike ride a few days ago, i looked at the brown vegetation and thought about these calls for prayer. do i believe that God is the cause of the drought? no. if i, as an individual, or we, as a collective, pray for rain, and it doesn't come, is God refusing to listen to me (us) or punish me (us) for some great sin? no. then, is it appropriate for any of us to pray for rain? my conclusion is that it is not. the drought is part of a natural process, or perhaps it is the result of our indifference to the environmental harm that we are doing by emitting great quantities of greenhouse gasses. in any eventuality, God is not the cause of our suffering.
for what, then, should we pray? perhaps wisdom to stop our damage to the atmosphere? perhaps wisdom to deal intelligently with the results of the drought? perhaps wisdom to know the priorities to choose in saving what we can and allowing other living things to perish? do i believe that God could send rain? certainly, but i also believe it is wrong to ask for God to interfere if the drought is caused by natural forces and wrong to ask God to intervene if the drought is caused by our own selfishness. those who are praying for rain will eventually see the rains return and will credit their prayers for ending the drought, but i believe that God has set nature in motion and lovingly helps us deal with the effects of those natural forces.
my prayer today is that we will have wisdom to deal with the effects of the drought intelligently and compassionately and that we neither blame God for the drought nor ask God to intervene miraculously to end it.