WHEN ALL HOPE IS LOST
“If only we can get a little bit of rain,” Lynn cries in her heart.
She looks at the cattle running towards the food her husband is giving them. They bellow at the top of their voices. Their eyes and the skinny bodies say it all — the panic to get food for their survival. Tears automatically dribbles over Lynn’s face.
“I cannot handle the cattle suffering so much,” she thinks and look at their beloved farm. It is nestled between two mountains — but is now nearly a desert.
A cry rips through her body when she watches the cattle running towards the water her husband and the workers brings. This water comes from the last fountain that did not dry up.
“Angus, things cannot continue this way,” says Lynn at lunch. “The cattle are getting thinner and thinner by the day. And things are not getting better. We did not have rain in the last two years.”
Angus looks up from his plate, his eyes filled with tears.
“I know Lynn. I was thinking the exact same thing. Our money is drying up at an alarming rate. If things continue like this, I would have to sell or slaughter a lot of animals to put them out of their misery. I have already used a lot of the savings in the bank to buy food for the animals. If I do not slaughter them, we are going to lose the farm in the end.”
Angus looks down to his plate, but not before Lynn sees his lips tremble with held in emotion.
She puts her hand on his hand to comfort him. No word comes from her mouth — not even a thought. The shock of their situation is too much to bare. For the first time in 37 years they are in grave danger of losing the farm, everything they have worked so hard for all their life.
Lynn wakes up in a sweat at 3hoo the next morning. She sips the sweet coffee on the porch. The bellowing of the hungry and thirsty cattle in the night is killing her inside. She burst into tears, feeling so hopeless to help them.
“There is so much men can create these days. But making rain is not one of them. Oh Lord, please have mercy on us. Forgive us all for complaining two years ago when we had too much rain. Send us rain Lord. If not for us, please send it for the animals you have created. They are dying of hunger and thirst. Please have mercy on us!”
A few days later Lynn goes to town to buy supplies. Her heart is in her shoes. No rain has fallen and the sun is scorching hot, drying out the last bits of dry foliage that is left for the animals. But this time Lynn stays in town much longer than she has too. There is something she has to do. This is pressing on her heart. She drives home — a little bit more satisfied, but still very worried about their animals and their situation on the farm. At home she is very quiet, not her chirpy old self.
One evening their phone rings.
“I’ll get it love,” she whispers.
Angus just sits there, the hope of ever saving their farm, slipping away from him. He’s become grey overnight — his eyes filled with desperation. He does not even register that Lynn is back in the room after taking the call.
“Love. Angus.” She waits till he looks at her without a word.
“That was the preacher. I went to him when I was in town on Friday. I begged him to arrange a prayer meeting for rain. He just called to say that the prayer meeting would be held on Sunday at 16h30 — just before the church service. He will send a message to everybody in church and place adverts everywhere.”
Angus looks at her, his eyes dead. Without uttering a single word, he stands up and walk out into the night.
Lynn knows that she has touched a sensitive subject. When the drought first hit, they prayed together for rain. But the rain did not come. They had such faith that the Lord will supply in all their needs. But as time went by, Angus lost his faith in the Lord, in circumstances. He watched cows abandoning their calves because they did not have enough milk. He stood beside cattle breathing out their last breath — not strong enough to survive. And this broke the camel’s back so to speak for Angus. He did not want to hear about faith or prayer for a long time now.
“But… I still believe the Lord will supply in all our needs,” Lynn thinks.
She looks at Angus walking in the moonlight, his shoulders hanging.
Lynn puts on a church dress and turn around when Angus steps into the room. She wants to beg him on her knees to go to church with her. But… she does not want to fight about it anymore. Her eyes fill with wonder when she sees Angus taking out his church clothes and starting to put it on.
“Thank You so much for changing his heart to go to church Lord! Only You could have done this!” she rejoices in her heart and walks away, her eyes filled with tears of joy.
They drive in total silence to the church on the hilltop overlooking the town. They cross the bridge into town, passing over the dry, cracked river bed. Lynn puts her hand on her mouth when they drive into the church yard. There is so many people — so many cars!
“Thank You Lord for small miracles,” she sighs whilst moving into the long wooden bench to take her place next to Angus.
She puts her umbrella next to her on the bench — having faith that God will send rain immediately.
“Good afternoon everybody. I had a visit from one of our congregation members which suggested a few things for this prayer meeting. Each one of must pray a short prayer.”
A shocked murmur rips through the church. Adamant that everybody should pray, the preacher continues.
“First we have to confess our sins and then pray for rain. I know this is rather intimidating for some of you to pray in front of others, but I think this is necessary so that the Lord can hear our hearts cry. And remember: you are talking to God not to the congregation. You start to pray when and how you feel to pray. You do not have to pray long sentences. You can keep it as short as possible. But I beg of you, for our town, our farms, our cattle and animals dying of drought: please pray. Let us bow our heads.”
Lynn stands up and start to pray, tears streaming down her face.
“Lord, I confess that I have moaned about the torrents of rain we had two years ago. I am so sorry. I confess all my sin — known and unknown. Please forgive each one of them. Father, have mercy on us all. Please send us rain Lord. There is nothing we can do to produce rain. But You can help us. Please do not forget about us and the animals and fields. Send us Your rain so that we can all survive this drought — men, animal and field alike.”
Lynn starts to sob heartbroken and sits down quietly. Angus enfolds her in his arms. They both sob like children. Someone else stands up and pray. And one by one each member of the congregation stands up, confess their sins, cry and pray for rain. Even Angus, shy to pray in front of others, stands up and pray. There is not a dry eye in the church. Not having rain has levelled them all — rich and poor. The prayers continue for a long time. Then the preacher prays a moving prayer about a caring and giving Lord that always hears prayers. He starts with the service.
Suddenly Lynn sits up in her chair.
“It was thunder!” she thinks with eyes spurred open in surprise.
She looks at Angus and he stares at her, his eyes filled with awe.
Lynn closes her eyes.
“Thank You Lord,” she says.
The preacher continues to preach and the thunder gets harder and harder. Suddenly the most wonderful sound for every person on this earth begins — the trickle of a drop of rain, then another and another. The preacher stops — listens to every drop of rain. You can hear a pin drop in the church. And then the rain comes down in torrents, filling the church with the fresh smell of rain on dry soil. No one speaks a word — not even the preacher.
“Thank You Lord,” Lynn cries out aloud, standing up and lifting her hands in the air.
All the people in church stands and start to thank the Lord — their hands lifted up in the air. They know a miracle happened today, one that no man could have done.
Then a young father, with his young child in his arms, stands up and walk out on the porch of the church. Everybody in church is quiet, humbled by the experience.
“This is what rain looks like my child,” the words whirls into the church, followed by sobs of the father.
Every person in church walks out to the porch crying. They look at the rain, smell the rain and feel the coolness of the spray being blown onto the porch. Angus is the first one to fall to his knees, his hands covering his face. Sobs wrench through his body. Lynn kneels beside him, folding her arms around him. Her heart feels for her husband that has gone through agony, that was nearly on the brink of killing his cattle to relief them from their misery. Angus gets up from his knees and turn to face Lynn. He puts his hands around her hips and start to jump-dance in circles.
“It is raining Lynn. God has heard our prayers. Our farm is saved. Our animals will have food one of these days. God is so good!”
And Lynn smiles from ear to ear, loving him being childlike in his joy.
“Look at the river!” someone shouts and every eye turns towards the dry river bed.
A small stream is forming, building up … up and up. Cheers of joy and laughter fill the air. People start to hug each other, glad that God has send down His rain of grace on them all. With the night setting in, people start to form a row next to each other, their hands around each other’s waist. Everybody is looking at the rain and the river that is slightly rising, centimeter by centimeter.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me…” the sound of their singing pierce through the night, bringing praise to a God that not only provided rain, but that has bound them all together in prayer.