January’s pounding storm was a fitting obituary to the prior year, a gloomy mirror reflecting many losses. It had been a rough year. My mother had unexpectedly passed away, and we were wading through the probate process. My wife and I both had serious health challenges. My own decline had forced me to quit a most satisfying career as a pastor and accept a significantly lower disability paycheck. We found ourselves living in an RV on a relative’s land. Many days it seemed like a struggle just to stay warm and comfortable. I’d lost count of the number of times I’d been up on the roof to fix a broken vent or patch a leak.
That January evening was a dreary reflection of loss. Yet, as my wife and I sat down to eat a simple meal, we really did have much to be thankful for: food on our table; the generosity of my stepmother, who allowed us to live there; and our simple home. But sitting down to eat, I wasn’t thinking about any of those. I was cold. Absentmindedly I went to turn the thermostat up. But it already was. Baﬄed, I turned the furnace oﬀ, then listened as it attempted to light—again and again. Something was putting out the flame.
I had a hunch I knew what it was: water in the furnace. I knew what I’d have to do. But I was dreading it this evening. It was dark outside. The wind was blowing in heavy gusts. It wasn’t merely a gentle mist falling from the sky or even a persistent patter of raindrops on the roof. It was as if the skies had opened up and we were being deluged—pounded with rain. In the summertime the creek that ran through our property was a gentle stream with a couple of inches of water. Now it was a raging torrent. How on earth was I to go out in this storm and dry the furnace compartment with the cover oﬀ and rain pouring down?
My mind was filled with ideas. Since I needed both hands, an umbrella wouldn’t work—not in this wind. I’d have to find my raincoat. How would I keep the furnace compartment dry?
Before my wife left for orchestra practice, she said something that rebuked my lack of faith. She said, “I’m going to pray that God will stop the rain so you can work out there.” I had not even thought of it. After she left, I too was praying.
Finally I donned my rain gear, gathered my tools. I was ready.
Hour after hour pouring rain had continued to pound our thin roof. Those hours had turned into days and nights. But now, wrapped in rain gear, getting ready to step into the deluge, I was accosted by a sound I had not heard for some time: silence. The wind was gone. The downpour had disappeared. There wasn’t even a fine drizzle. The rain had stopped!
Quickly I began to work. Just as I finished the task, I felt it: a drop of rain. Then another. As it started to rain again, I wasn’t worried. I had finished. The heater was working.
Strangely enough, as I worked I found myself singing a song I hadn’t heard or sung for years. A song lamenting the problems plaguing modern life. It had been performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song was “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” It was a question for which the band had no answer. But as I’d sung it I wasn’t echoing their cynical melancholy. For me it was a song of praise.
Marlan Knittel, a retired pastor, writes from Denver, Colorado.