God always answers prayer. But the Lord of the universe is not our personal genie. Like any good parent, he responds as he wills, when he wills.
People prayed for rain for most of Canada’s blistering, fire-ridden, drought-plagued summer. It didn’t come till mid-August.
The evening that first broke the heavens’ long fast found me working in the yard. Weeding. Raking mulch. Picking overgrown rhubarb and watching the sky darken with promise. Thunderclaps heralded a welcome downpour. I stayed outdoors until drenched through, breathing in the fragrance of damp flora, relishing the feel of wet rhubarb as I hacked off the leaves. Though too late to help the already dehydrated crops in surrounding farmland, the much-prayed-for moisture soaked the earth, a mandatory deposit toward next year’s crops.
It rained on and off for days. On our newly laid backyard sod, relieving us of the necessity of watering for hours daily. On the brittle brown straw in the front yard, greening it overnight. Rain pelted people’s roofs, pouring through some ceilings. “I’m grateful anyway,” someone with a leaky roof told me. “The land needed it so.”
Even critters seemed glad. One morning I watched two squirrels playing tag along the power lines outside our bedroom window. Tails up, feet scampering, chuckling loudly. Rather than bedding down in their coop, our daughter’s chickens chose to stay up late and peck the moist earth. GraceCat stood at the window, mesmerized by fat raindrops sliding down the glass. After walks, Cash shook himself dry in that funny way dogs have of starting their shake at the north end and moving to the south. (He always waits till we’re back in the house for that, never heeding my protests of “NO, CASH!”)
Several friends, evacuated from towns threatened by raging fires, hectares across, returned home, grateful to find standing houses. Grateful for firefighters who risked their lives to make it so. Grateful for a little rain and cooler temperatures. Grateful to God for sending refreshment, even while still alert for a possible next fight with the raging monsters.
Could there be anything sweeter than God’s long-hoped-for, “Yes!”?
Fires and drought are a less immediate crisis in a seemingly ever-swelling chorus of global bad news. Earthquake in Haiti. War in Afghanistan. Religious minorities, including many Christians, martyred by extremists. COVID—fourth wave. Political upheaval. Is it worth it even to pray, some ask? If God is loving, how could he allow such turmoil?
But a greater question persists. Considering how humans shun and forget him, how we treat each other and God’s created world, I ask it now: “If God is a just and holy God, how could he allow any of us to remain, myself included?”
I know why: He is also a God of mercy, ever inviting us to himself. And through his Son, Jesus Christ, his grace falls like heavenly rain on an undeserving world. Still. And so we pray, “…Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.