Drought and Gratitude
A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
23rd May 2004
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As we enjoy the continued good autumn weather - with bright blue skies and warm sunshine - it is so easy to forget God.
He is the one who gives us all good gifts to enjoy. But yet we tend to remember him more often and more fervently when we feel that we are missing out on good gifts and enjoyment.
It is often in pain, sorrow and suffering that we turn to God in prayer. Sometimes we are in such distress we do not even need to be reminded to pray! We do it automatically - pleading with unselfconscious urgency for God to give us relief from our pain and to aid us in our difficulty.
But when we are enjoying the good things of life we tend to forget to thank God for his kind provision and to bless him for his generosity. We nearly always need to be reminded by others or by conventions to express our gratitude to him. The signs of his kindness that we are enjoying do not seem to remind us of him. Rather, we tend to be so absorbed enjoying these wonderful gifts that we forget the giver almost completely.
The materialistic society of wealth and pleasure in which we live, is one that is characterised by a forgetful ingratitude to God. Instead of being thankful to God or singing his praises - our nation keeps turning its back on God and ignoring him. Consequently Australians have never had so many of the pleasures of creation provided for us, and yet we keep indicating rising levels of unhappiness. Without the giver the gift is hollow.
As we enjoy this continued good autumn weather - we are becoming aware again that we need the rain that will ruin our weekend. We are gradually becoming aware again that the countryside is still in drought. We are slowly being reminded that our own water supplies are not infinite. We cannot waste the water on hosing hard surfaces. We cannot prodigally water our gardens and lawns.
City life can seem so distant from the reality of weather and seasons. The growing of crops and the production of food is as unreal as the tins in the supermarket. They are the real givers of life’s nourishment. How they got there is of no immediate concern to the city dweller. If one supplier cannot fill our order another from somewhere else will. So the hardships of weather - of drought or flood - that our country cousins are enduring seem to be of no significance in our pantry cupboards.
But our city and our country need rain fairly desperately. There is no substitute plan that will overcome our need for rain. We cannot manufacture the water we need to fill our damns or to water our crops. We are not in control of our weather. It is God who gives and withholds our rain.
It is like the bushfires - we can take preventative measures and we can engage in rescue operations but it is only when God sends a change in weather or rain that the fires are extinguished. So with the drought - we can build damns, transport water to needy communities, and restrict water usage but it is only when God sends the rains that the drought will end.
And it is hypocritical to be amongst those who never thank him for the rain that we receive but yet pray fervently for the rain that we desperately need. It is even more hypocritical to complain about his lack of provision and care when we never thank him for the life that he has given to us.
God sometimes sent hardship upon Israel to remind them of their dependence upon him. Amos reminded them that God sent famine, drought, blight, and pestilence and yet still the people did not return to him.
Let us pray for relief from this present drought, mindful of how God teaches us to depend upon him. And let us remember to be thankful for the many signs of his kindness to us in the pleasures of life that we so richly enjoy.