Thanks be to God, he laveth the thirsty land

Thanks be to God, he laveth the thirsty land

It rained today.

Now, where you live, that might not seem like such a big deal. In fact, when I lived in Boston, when it rained, it usually meant that plans were spoiled and something had to be postponed. But where I live now, in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, rain is a VERY big deal. We only get about nine inches of rain a year. Most of it comes in the summer which still leaves us with over 300 days of sunshine to do fun things outside. But since moving to Arizona, I’ve gained a new appreciation for rain.

This afternoon we heard thunder and watched as dark clouds moved in. We could hear neighbors opening their doors. Rain was coming. And when it did, my wife and I hugged and smiled. We haven’t had rain in weeks. While it’s great to have sunshine, we know how valuable rain is to life, to the land, to everything that is on earth. When the skies opened up and gave us a long deluge, we stood on our back patio (photo above) and thanked God for the rain. It was a beautiful thing, coming down from the sky, bringing new color to all of the green around us, the ground gratefully soaking it up.

It reminded me of our recent trip to Israel, were we found ourselves on the top of Mount Carmel, where the prophet Elijah dramatically confronted the priests of Baal, a false god. The story is told in the Bible, in the book of 1 Kings, Chapter 18. Take a minute and read this dramatic story. It is about drought, and the need for rain, and how God revealed himself to be true and Baal to be false. Most of all, it was a moment when God called His people to faithfulness, back to Himself.


On the top of Mt. Carmel (see  above, the statue of Elijah in front of the Carmelite Monastery on top of Mt. Carmel), as I looked out to the plain where the Prophets of Baal met their end after their god has been proven to be false, I turned to the west, toward the Mediterranean Sea. There I was reminded of how God provided rain. In the words of the Bible set to music to tremendous effect in Mendelssohn’s great oratorio, Elijah, a little boy looks to the west and says,

Behold, a little cloud ariseth now from the waters: it is like a man’s hand! The heavens are black with clouds and wind; the storm rusheth louder and louder!

To which the chorus replies, with great rejoicing, words from Psalm 93:3-4:

Thanks be to God, He laveth the thirsty land. The waters gather, they rush along! They are lifting their voices! The stormy billows are high; their fury is mighty. But the Lord is above them, and Almighty.

And so he does. As he did today here in the Sonoran Desert. Water for the thirsty land. Thanks be to God.