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Rain or Shine

     I remember when I was young we had tickets to a Yankee game and it was rained out.  I was so looking forward to it,  I was so excited to go to a major league baseball game.  I can’t tell you how disappointed I was.  I heard today that we have had 13 consecutive Fridays where it has rained.  We have only had 20 Fridays so far this year…2/3 of our weekends have started with rain.  We have heard the saying that ‘April showers bring May flowers’ so I am curious to see what March, April and May showers bring.  But what are you gong to do?  There are a lot of things you can control but one thing you sure cannot control is the weather.  With all of the tremendous discoveries and inventions in science and technology, nobody has figured out how to control or change the weather.  No Scud Missile is stopping a hurricane or tornado.        Last week we held our outside Food Truck Festival at the church. It was a wonderful day filled with sunshine, blue skies and warmth.  A perfect day for the event.  It was sandwiched between a rainy Friday and an awful rain soaked Mother’s Day. Many people prayed for good weather and we received a beautiful day.  Was it a direct answer to prayer?  I don’t know, I am always hesitant to say so because I am sure there were many people who had weddings and events planned for Friday and Sunday and prayed just as hard for nice weather. Why does God answer prayer for one and not the other?  Well, that’s a discussion for another day.  But God certainly does answer prayer and I would also be hesitant to say that it wasn’t a direct answer to our prayers.  But either way, we were thankful that it didn’t rain.  But…     Would we have been thankful if it rained on Saturday?  Jesus says it “rains on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45).  Saint Paul encourages us to “give thanks in all circumstances.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  What does it take to be thankful when you have an outdoor event planned, to put a ton of work into preparing for it, to have everything in place and be extremely excited about it and then to have it pour and rain it out?  Not just to accept it, not just to find some kind of contentment in it, not simply to deal with it…but to actually be thankful?      It is one thing to accept the hand that is dealt you.  It’s a whole other thing to be thankful for that hand.  I don’t think that is an easy ask.  I tend to think it takes the daily practice of gratitude and thanksgiving.  It takes a disciplined approach to daily surrendering to God and finding how and where He is working in each and every situation.  We are not naturally thankful, especially of those things that don’t go our way.  But learning to practice the presence of God in the highs and the lows, in the light and the dark, in the happy and the sorrowful.  It’s not to say that we are thankful for the particular situation that is causing us discomfort or pain, but we are thankful for God revealing Himself to us in all of the circumstances.  We are thankful that He is the Good Shepherd who never leaves us and who guides us through the valley of the shadow of death.  We are thankful that He is our strength.     We can’t control the weather.  We can’t control other people. There are many situations we cannot control.  But we can control our reactions.  And we control them not when they happen but in a life of thanksgiving before they ever happen.  “Praise God” is not simply a corny Christian saying or a response to a sermon point.  We practice saying it even when we don’t feel it and slowly our hearts change and it comes off our lips freely until we naturally are thankful for what God allows and for for what He doesn’t allow.
   What do you think?  How does it make you feel?