Sitting in our living room tonight, I can hear the sound of steady rain and rolling thunder. We can all appreciate the significance of rain and what it means for all life forms on our planet, but rain took on even more meaning for me a few years back when I began farming. For the farmer, a well-timed rain can represent thousands of dollars in irrigation cost savings, and tens of thousands of dollars in yield boost. There is no sweeter sound than waking up in the early morning hours, in the midst of a late-July drought, and hearing peels of thunder shake the windows of your house. Driving around in the wake of those long-awaited rains, you can see the immediate relief it brings to crops: leaves that were wilting and beginning to curl up from the unforgiving Delta heat suddenly look vibrant and green once more.
Rain is a good thing, and Luke Bryan wasn’t the first one to tell us about its virtues. The Bible reminds us repeatedly that rain is a blessing from God. But have you ever stopped to consider just how amazing this blessing really is? I hadn’t either, until several years ago when I was reading through a devotional book by John Piper called A Godward Life. In it he penned an essay about rain, and here are some amazing facts you should know:
- Most of the rain that reaches us has evaporated from the Pacific Ocean and has been carried thousands of miles.
- This is no small feat, because rain is not exactly light as a feather. Consider this: if one inch of rain fell across one square mile of cropland (that’s 640 acres, more practically), that would be 206,300,160 gallons of water, weighing over 1.6 billion pounds. Wow!
- Now if you’re really paying attention, you might have caught something wrong with this scenario. If water evaporates from the Pacific Ocean and eventually falls on our crops here in the heartland of America, wouldn’t that water have salt in it? And doesn’t salt kill crops? Well, the science behind it is a little elaborate to fully explain here, but in the process of evaporation most of the salt gets filtered out and left behind. If you want to know more, read here.
- So, we’ve got evaporated water, and we’ve filtered out the salt that would kill the crops, and it’s been carried thousands of miles to our thirsty soil, but we aren’t off the hook just yet. Somehow that water has to make it back from the clouds and down to the earth. And it can’t just dump itself out. That would crush the stalks of our crops, not to mention the environmental disasters like tsunamis, mudslides, and avalanches that could be caused by such a forceful impact. God brings it back to us in the form of droplets, big enough that they don’t evaporate during their return trip to Earth, but small enough that they don’t destroy our crops.
What a beautiful and mysterious gift! May we never lose our sense of awe at what God has brought about, even in the seemingly simple things.
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,”
Isaiah 55:10 ESV