Hope in the Rain
The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. – James 5:8b (NRSV)
“Dig and Hope” was a Santa Fe garden club a number of years ago. Since most members had moved to northern New Mexico from the more lush landscapes of the East or Midwest, the name was spot-on. Any gardener who expects Santa Fe soil and climate to yield the same bounty as back home soon learns Territorial Governor (1878-1881) Lew Wallace’s wisdom: “All calculations based on experience elsewhere fail in New Mexico.”
This land of little rain and much clay can defeat even the most master of gardeners. To grow anything in New Mexico, you have to “dig and hope.” The author of the Letter of James would have understood. For a successful harvest, he knew you had to pray for the early rains to help germinate the seed and pray again for the late rains to keep the crops growing to harvest.
As a desert dweller and early Christian, “James” also knew the parallels between faith and dryland farming. We’re blessed when the rains come on time, but we can also know drought times that dry up the seedlings of new life. At the other extreme, sometimes events of our lives can feel like a flash flood that washes away topsoil and creates new and unfamiliar territory. No wonder the author of James encouraged the new Christians to “strengthen their hearts” as they waited for God’s early and late rain.
“Be patient,” James wrote. Show endurance. Dig and hope.
Strengthen our hearts, O God, and help to wait for the blessing of your rain in its season. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.