I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but where I live, this has been the hottest week in over 20 years. Heat, haze, humidity, the whole package has been ours to <ahem> enjoy.
I rejoice with my heat loving friends, for this has been their week. As for me and my house, we don’t do so well in this stuff. But we adjust, and carry on, thanks to the gift of central air conditioning. (Whoever invented air conditioning, as far as I’m concerned, should be accelerated toward sainthood.)
Alexander Maclaren was a Scottish-born Baptist preacher who was known to offer a positive comment about the weather in his prayers. One time, when the weather in his town was particularly dank and dreary, he was reported to have prayed, “We thank you, Lord, that it is not always like this.”
While I’m not one for talking about the weather in my prayers, I appreciate the attitude with which Maclaren approached an unhappy subject. Were I to pray about this week’s weather, I’d probably echo Maclaren’s sentiment, thanking God that it is not always hot, hazy and humid where we live.
I think there are two lessons for us in this. First, there’s a reminder that God is in the small things. Weather is one of the phenomena that God has set in place; we get sun and rain, snow and ice, heat and cold, and everything in between. God is in these details.
The second lesson for us is one of gratitude. The apostle Paul, in writing to the Thessalonians, said, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5.18, NIV). Some people balk at that, especially if they read the verse quickly. Take note, however, that it doesn’t say we are to give God thanks “for” all circumstances, but “in” all circumstances! There is a big difference.
I can thank God in the midst of heat, haze and humidity, even though I may not necessarily thank God for it. The important thing is not that I be uncannily grateful for something for which I am not truly grateful; rather, what matters is to live a life of gratitude in which God is praised even in the storms and difficult times of life.
How can we thank God in the midst of our trials? Through practice! How do we practise? By being thankful to God in the midst of the good things as well as the bad things. I cannot take for granted that it will rain when it needs to rain, so that the farmers’ crops will grow and bring about a bountiful harvest; I need to be thankful for the rain. By rejoicing in the good things that come our way, and not assuming they’ve come about because of our own pure genius, we are better equipped spiritually to be able to face those things which do not bring us joy with an attitude of gratitude toward the God who made our world, and us, and who revels in our thanksgiving.
So I am grateful in the midst of heat, haze and humidity.
And I will be very grateful when it dissipates!