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« Alternate Endings | Main | Antidote for Hopelessness: It's never too late to pray! »

How Does the Rain Fall?

rainfall.jpg“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. “  Matthew 5:45.

Have you ever driven away from the drive-thru window and reached into your sack of fast food and found out that they gave you the wrong sandwich? Or left out the fries? Or gave you a regular coke instead of a diet? A few days ago, we ordered a sandwich named “The Baconator” from Wendy’s for my son Ross.  It is so named for the bacon laid on top of the hamburger patty.  When we got home, he opened up the sandwich and, guess what was missing?  Right.  The Bacon!

Have you ever found out that the city or township adjusted your neighbor’s taxes down when at the same time they adjusted yours up by two hundred dollars a half?

Have you ever wondered how someone who ate all the right things…no transfats, no fried food, no red meat…exercised right, got plenty of sleep, etc., and still was diagnosed with a malignancy or had a heart attack?  Especially, when you know people…Jeff Arnold would call them slobs…who ate all the wrong foods, hardly moved off their Lazyboy, and had no clue about keeping their bodies healthy… and yet never had a serious illness and lived to a ripe old age?

It seems to be the unfairness of it all. That’s what makes us so frustrated. Why do some people get away with everything, and others…meaning you…can’t make a single move without getting zapped?

David had the same problem, as he relates in Psalm 73:1-14:

Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart. 2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment. 7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish. 8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily. 9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them. 11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High? 12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.

None of this makes any sense to the human mind.

The thing that makes this even harder to understand is that the Word of God has so much to say about God’s justice system.

Galatians 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Romans 2:2-6 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

And, despite all these harsh words and dire warnings against doing evil, here we find Jesus saying that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.
If that is true, why do we bother being righteous?
If nothing happens to people who sin, why do we take such a hard position against it?

Why does it rain on the unjust?

First, we need to understand that God is not rewarding the unjust with his rain, nor is he trying to frustrate the just by raining on the unjust.

The fact is that God is replenishing his earth with water. When he put the ecosystem into motion, he designed evaporation, condensation, wind currents and the entire weather pattern so that the earth would be fertile and life-sustaining.

When the rain falls on an unjust man’s field, it has nothing to do with the man. He just happens to be there. God sends his rain without regard to anything else or anyone else.

But, this passage of scripture is about more than just rain. It is a testimony to God’s impartiality. If God based his decisions on man’s ideas, there would never be any mercy, there would never be any grace, there would never be any offer of repentance.

God does not strike people dead if they make one wrong move. He has the power to do so…as in the case of Ananias and Saphira…but God allows people to live out their lives and make their choices.

Herein lies the answer. Man will not be able to say to God:

  • Look what you did to me.
  • You didn’t give me a chance.
  • I would have served you if you would have treated me differently.
  • If you would have blessed me, I would not have cursed you.
  • If you would have healed me, I would have loved you.
  • If you would have worked out my problems, I would have served you.
  • It’s all your fault, God.

Whatever circumstance you blame for not serving God, judgment day will hold a surprise for you.

  • God has someone who went through the exact same problem… the same circumstances, the same disease, the same injury, the same abuse, the same pay scale, the same temptations, the same everything…And yet they served God!
  • God has a Daniel who was thrown into a lion’s den.
  • God has a Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego who were cast into a fiery furnace.
  • God has a Job who lost his houses and lands, his children, his cattle, his wealth, was afflicted with boils from head to toe…and yet refused to curse his God.

What you do in life will never be God’s fault. He rains on the just and the unjust. His sun shines on the evil and on the good. Even the evil person can look out on a beautiful sunset, or drink in the beauty of a Grand Canyon, or enjoy the taste of a watermelon, or breathe in a full breath of God’s air.

You can choose! You can choose to do the right thing. You have the power of choice in your own hand.

Joshua 24:15  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

How does the rain fall?

That will never be the question.
Your response to the rain…That’s God’s purpose.
My concern will never be who is getting blessed and who isn’t.
Who is ahead and who is behind?
Who is enjoying life and who is miserable?
I am not God’s scorekeeper. He keeps his own score.
I am not the clearing house for all of God’s blessings and curses.

Sometime, the rain that falls into our lives represents a huge, undeserved blessing.

Solomon had the world handed to him on the proverbial silver platter. His wealth was so great that people came from far and wide just to see if it was true. The Queen of Sheba was one of these persons.

And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built, 5 And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. 6 And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. 7 Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. 8 Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. 9 Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. 10 And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.1 Kings 10:4-10.

You would think that rainfall of blessing into Solomon’s life would have sealed his relationship with God forever, but, surprise…it was not the case.

Solomon left a legacy of apostasy, indulgence and wastefulness. He married many wives and allowed them to practice their idolatry in the very land God had given to Israel for their inheritance. The kingdom he left fell apart in the very next generation.

Sometimes, however, the rain that falls into our lives is an unwanted downpour.

I look at Doug and Kathy Schnee. They just had a difficult day a couple of weeks ago because on September 7, 2004, I preached Billy Schnee’s funeral here in this sanctuary. I talked about Billy’s life. Here are a few excerpts:

We could continue to talk about Billy. He had such wide and varied interests. I think his dad captured the essence of Billy’s life and personality in his letter. But, we cannot satisfy our quest here this afternoon in this service unless we step back and reflect on the purposes, the whys and wherefores of Billy Schnee. This has been a source of untold agony for Kathy and Doug over the years. How could this be? How could this seeming contradiction of God’s love and perfection even exist? It this divine punishment or disfavor? Is it an attack of Satan himself? Do we attribute it to a woeful lack of faith on our part? Is it just meant to be? Sometimes the questions were obscured behind the day-to-day realities of caring for Billy. At other times they bore down with hurricane strength.

This thought began to form in my mind as I stood beside Billy’s hospital bed in January when we knew that the end was near. I decided to preach his funeral sermon to him then, although I didn’t tell him what I was doing. I told him that he must not think that his life was wasted or in vain. He had a powerful, positive effect on everyone who knew him because he brought out the best in them. God used him to develop grace, love and compassion in his family and friends. The greatest tragedy of this entire episode would be for us to fail to recognize God’s hand in creating divine attributes in creatures clay. As surely as Moses picked up a rod and caused the sea to roll back, as surely as David picked up a sling and felled the giant, so also God picked up Billy Schnee and brought forth marvelous graces and heroic deeds from ordinary human beings like us.

  • Billy taught us patience through the laborious task of caring for him.
  • Billy taught us peace through his calm reaction to daily challenges.
  • Billy taught us thankfulness because he showed such gratitude for his care.
  • Billy taught us happiness through his refusal to complain.
  • Billy taught us appreciation for so much because he had such appreciation for his limited opportunities.

We cannot measure Billy’s life by what he did, but by what he caused others to do.

You see, in a larger context, Billy’s life was a sermon. He illustrated the very heart of God at the dawn of creation when our human parents fell into sin. Instead of destroying their souls in an act of divine retribution, he devised a means to redeem lost mankind back to a state where they could have a relationship with him. That means took form on a cruel instrument of execution. Calvary was not born out of the murderous hearts of Christ’s tormentors, but out of the flaming sword that prohibited the entrance into Eden by sinners. We are not saved by a stunning display of God’s power, but by his incredible willingness to show us his weakness.

It’s not the rain. It’s how you respond to the rain.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus said,

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

How does the rain fall in your life?
God’s rain in your life does not mean approval of wrong or punishment of right.
It’s only evidence of his mercy and grace.
His mercy and grace are exactly what you need today.
It is time to let go of the questions that frustrate you and embrace the God who loves you.
Life may not be fair, but God is good!

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Reader Comments (2)

Paragraphs 2,3,4 & 5 describe situations for which there are unsurprising and scientific explanations. There is no need to involve God in this at all.

The forgotten bacon was an error - we all make them.

The adjustment of taxes has a basis in law. A law created by representatives for whom citizens voted.

The health of a person is broadly controlled by genetics. Naturally high cholesterol levels account for many unexpected deaths.

Longevity is genetic, body size might also be; it is therefore possible to be fat and long lived (although not common)

"It seems to be the unfairness of it all. That’s what makes us so frustrated. Why do some people get away with everything, and others…meaning you…can’t make a single move without getting zapped?" Statistically, this cannot be so. Examine the lives of other people - they too have their problems rich or poor, educated or uneducated, American or foreign...

If you accept God, you also accept He is always correct - always. The hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, wars, disease, famine, death, they are all His doing. There is no need to thank Him if you survive, it merely shows that He did not say your time was up.

If you suffer from some awful illness, He gave it you. If you recover, your punishment has been sufficient; if you don't, He decides where you end up.

Isaiah 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

Amos 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

Exodus 4:11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?

September 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGary

Many thanks, a good great and insightful thought! As you said, God, sovereignly, has natural laws in place on our earth, which He endorses, HONORS and respects (Matt. 5: 45). These laws apply equally to the just and unjust. How we, individually and collectively as nations, respond to these ubiquitous natural laws, use and utilize them or renege on them, determines who we, really, are, whether we HONOR and respect Him, and what our respective agendas are, even though secretive; bearing in mind that our intent and acts will, ultimately, be tried and exposed for what they really are, for the day will declare them (1 Cor. 3: 13).
Recently, I have examined the lives of extra-Biblical and Biblical characters; faced with the same situation, and the divergent decisions made, with diverging eternal consequences. Billy Graham versus Chuck Templeton, Blaise Pascal versus Oscar Wilde, Rembrandt versus Caravaggio, Myles Munroe versus Carlton Pearson; Jacob versus Esau, the Levites versus Other Tribes, Phinehas versus Zimri, Jabez versus Brothers, David versus Saul, etc. Faced with the same crisis, same situation; they made different choices with differing consequences, because of differing character (make-up) and differing conceptualization (rationale).
It was not the exposure to the elements that made the difference. Rather it was what they were made of, their respective character, that did and their subsequent actions, reactions and responses. While some looked for a "city whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11: 10), for others it was "the pleasures of in for a season" (Heb. 11: 25) and journeys "into a far country" (Lk. 15: 13).
Faced with a crisis and a crisis within a crisis, our challenge is to carefully, prayerfully and single-mindedly seek the HONOR of the Lord and His guidance thru to conclusion, realizing that our respective crises are by no mean unique to us (1 Cor. 10: 13).
Excellent work. Keep it up!
Book Reference. "Eleven Days to the Rescue" by Angus Gussie Geer, if you have an interest in contrasts above.

December 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClarence Charles

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