Last week it was nothing but the Jubilee. And rain. This week........... just rain.
I don’t recall having this solid, day-long drenching. Ireland –yes. West Wales last Christmas – definitely (and how sorry we must all be for those in the same area who’ve lost so much in the floods this last couple of days).
I went to school a few miles north of here but in the same downland environment. (in those days Worthing was just for visiting my great-aunts). One thing I remember clearly from those hazy years in the classroom was that the average rainfall for our area was 33 inches a year. And so it seemed to be.
These past two days we’ve had something like 2 of those inches. Continued over 30 days that would give us all that rain in one month.....
Yes, we need it. No, I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that it’s an awful lot of water to manage all at once. Which Worthing Hospital hasn’t. Nor parts of Littlehampton, Bognor, Felpham and lots of smaller places. I very much hope that you – reading this – haven’t suffered from flooding. It’s very traumatic as well as messy and is one of the things I’ve had recurrent bad dreams about over the years. Not nice.
So – why does God allow it?
That’s too big a question for here and now but I can give some guidelines.
One is that often the actual flooding (or not having sufficient during drought times) is down to us and the way we’ve managed our environment and resources. Not really a God thing at all. Well, not directly.
Because He also says that He will give us rain and that the rains will continue to benefit us if we do things His way. “If you live according to my laws and obey my commands, I will send you rain at the right time, so that the land will produce crops and the trees will bear fruit.”
Blackmail? Is this a heavy dose of ‘Do things my way or I’ll flood you. Or bake you.’ Upon reading which we all go back to church and everything’s OK?
But it is a way of saying ‘if you live your lives as I’ve designed you to do, then things will begin to work out. Amongst other things, you’ll recognise the right decisions to make – environmental decisions. And legal decisions. And financial decisions. And all sorts. You’ll begin to know how to treat other people. When to be strict and when to be merciful. You won’t have to resort to the legal process to control everything. And one sign that you’re getting it right will be the weather will begin to straighten out. The reason I’m telling you this’ says God, ‘is that I created the world and its people and I love all of it very much.’
I started off writing about the rain. I’ve ended up in the big, big questions of how God relates to the world. Have I lost track?
No. It’s just that sun and rain are utterly fundamental to our survival. Because human beings and the place they inhabit are all part of one creation – integrated, co-dependent – you can’t deal with one and ignore the other.
So – what do we do? Well, we can’t do much to control the amount of sun or rain coming our way. But we can get to know their Creator, learn from Him how we should live our lives and see if He keeps His side of the arrangement. Then it’s down to Him.
I don’t see a problem trying that.
By Nigel O’Dwyer who lives – and paddles to work – in Worthing.