Every so often, a song comes along that speaks so profoundly and personally that it warrants repeat play. The Rain Keeps Falling by Andrew Peterson is one of those.
This brother has written a host of songs that self-evidently arise from both deep heartache and serious theological reflection. In other words, they are not standard contemporary Christian “choruses.” Listening to one of his albums is like taking a crash course in biblical theology and having a personal counselling session at the same time. I’ve often hit repeat, several times, in order to contemplate the profoundly helpful lyrics. If I were living in the “olden days” (as Sean Kennedy likes to refer to my youth), I imagine I would wear out the vinyl of The Rain Keeps Falling. In recent days, I’ve frequently repeated it on my music app.
The past couple of weeks have indeed been rainy days. The Carpenters (ala “olden days”) used to sing, “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down.” Do you ever feel like that? Though grateful for the recent and ongoing rains, and while appreciative of the dams filling to the brim, I am nevertheless tempted to say, “Enough!” I mean, Level 2 load-shedding, Level 3 lockdown, and now Level 4 flood warnings. What’s next?
The cloudy sky, the always wet running shoes, and the depressive psychological effect of the dreary days require, at least for me, a lot of effort not to “get me down.”
But aside from the atmospheric rain, other kinds of rain keeps falling: the rain of pain. Peterson captures this well:
I tried to be brave, but I hid in the dark.
I sat in that cave and I prayed for a spark
to light up all the pain that remained in my heart,
and the rain kept falling.
Perhaps you can relate: the ceaseless rain of failure; the soul-dampening discouragements arising from living in a fallen world; the unrelenting clouds of heartache, blocking out hope, as you experience the loss of a loved one, the loss of friendships, the loss of dreams, and the loss of the security of routine—including the routine of gathering with other believers. Yes, the rain just keeps falling.
How, then, does our Lord expect us to respond when tempted to a despair that “can’t believe there’s an end to this season of night”? Peterson hints at an answer:
My daughter and I put the seeds in the dirt,
and every day now we’ve been watching the earth
for a sign that this death will give way to a birth,
and the rain keeps falling.
Perhaps Peterson is reflecting on the words of Jesus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat, having fallen into the ground, should die. It abides alone; but if it should die, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).
For a harvest of fruit, there must be the planting of the seed, but this is useless apart from rain. God brings about a harvest by planting and by plenty of rain. So with the Christian.
God is growing his church into Christlikeness. This requires the death of self-will, the death of self-determination, the death (to be redundant) of self-autonomy. For this reason, God often makes sure that the rain keeps falling. The difficulties are for our development. Let’s remember that as the rain—not only of COVID-19 but as various rainclouds that attend our way—keep falling. Yet, as painful as these can be, aren’t you glad you know the one who sends the rain (Psalm 147:8; Matthew 5:45)?
Holding the umbrella with and, when I can, for you,