How the Elements
“Praise Jehovah from the earth . . fire and hail, snow and vapor; stormy wind, fulfilling His word.”—
Psalm 148:7-8, A.R.V.
Acting on no mere impulse of his own, but under the direction of the Spirit, Elijah prayed God for the rain which should assure the people of Israel that Jehovah, and not Baal, was the true God and the Giver of every good gift.
PRAYING FOR RAIN TO THE GOD OF ELIJAH
Some years ago, on the African Kongo, a missionary band was driven to ask the God of Elijah for another such sign.
It is not that the human agent can command the Lord, or expect the Almighty to act upon man’s suggestion. That would be merest presumption. Faith must always say, with the Author of faith, “Nevertheless not my will, but Thine, be done.” But oft times, in the conflict between truth and error in the dark places of the earth, the missionary has been put where the Spirit of God manifestly indicated the preferring of requests for divine interventions which should show to darkened minds that there is indeed a living God in the heavens who can do things on earth.
THE HEATHEN DANCED FOR RAIN
In her book, On the Congo, Mrs. Fanny E. Guinness tells of a time of threatening famine in the villages.
The rainy season was passing, but there was no rain.
The missionary one evening heard unusual drum-beating in the villages.
“He asked what it meant, and was told that the people were to assemble that night and dance for rain.
“The missionary said to the lad, ‘But you know that will not bring rain, don’t you?’
“ ‘O yes, teacher, it will.’
“ ‘Nonsense! How can beating a drum and dancing make the rain fall? If God wants it to rain, it will; but not otherwise.’
“ ‘Ah, well, teacher, you will see. Just notice now if it does not rain before tomorrow morning.’ ”
Everything looked dark to the missionary. Even the mission boys were under the spell of primitive superstition. “O God,” groaned the missionary, “forbid that Thy rain should fall in apparent response to the invocation of devils.” That night passed, and many nights; still no rain fell. Suspicion grew in the native minds that the missionary was driving away the rain god.
What the missionary had said to the school lad came to the ears of the king, who sent word that the people believed the missionary was responsible for the withholding of rain.
THE KING’S CHALLENGE
“The missionary replied that it was not he, but
the people themselves.
“ ‘How is that?’
“ ‘Just this way: God owns all the clouds; for He made them. Season by season He has sent the rain to you unasked, and you have had plenty to eat in all your towns. But who among you have ever once thanked Him? Instead of doing that, you have done that which He abominates, in praising and thanking your rain fetish.’
“ ‘What then shall we do, white man?’
“Here was a most practical question. How ought it to be answered? There seemed to be but one way; and that was to take up the challenge of the heathen chief in God’s name.
“ ‘Tell Kangampaka,’ replied the missionary, ‘to appoint a day for all the people to come together, and wait upon God to give them rain; and if they come to Him with sincere hearts, and put away their fetishes,
He will hear them.’
“The answer came back very soon: ‘The words of the white man are good. The king appoints tomorrow.’
“The morrow came, and the people flocked in large numbers to the little church, which was full to over-flowing. Chiefs and people from all the adjacent towns were there. After some exhortation, prayer was offered and the people dispersed.
“All through the rest of that day, the missionaries agonized in prayer to God. Toward evening the answer seemed to be at hand; for thick, black clouds rolled overhead. But, alas, they dispersed again.
“It was a sore trial of faith; but still they prayed on, and gave the Lord no rest. Through that night they watched and prayed. And, before dawn of the next day, the clouds came overhead again; and, this time, they did not disperse until a glorious, refreshing shower had fallen upon the thirsty land.”
Material mercies alone are insufficient. It was not long until the rain dances were on again in the villages. But many hearts had received a conviction of the true God; and the missionaries, in their isolation and helplessness before the walls of heathen superstition, knew that God had sent them a sign that He was within sound of their cry, to help and to deliver.