No Works, No Wonder

Faith does not work alone. Photo by Parij Borgohain.

The drought was getting serious,
The situation bleak,
And for the want of sustenance
The village was getting weak.
And the thing that was most needed,
On the hot and thirsty plain,
Was a life sustaining downpour—
A good old-fashioned rain.

And so the village gathered,
To unite in faithful prayer;
To seek for heaven’s blessing
And petition heaven’s care.
And what they most desired,
What they really hoped to gain
Was to see the heavens open
And bestow a soaking rain.

And their prayers were, oh, so tender;
Their faces so sincere—
Surely these were words enough
The Lord would have to hear.
Yet for all their spoken eloquence
Their pleadings were in vain;
For only one small boy, you see,
Brought an umbrella for the rain.

I am sitting at work and suddenly, traveling across digital space, BLING!  In comes an email.  It is from my mom.  As a family, we frequently share inspirational thoughts or quotes with each other through email and text.  This is one such correspondence.  I open it up.  It is just one sentence: “The village was in a severe drought and gathered to pray for rain; but only one small boy brought an umbrella.”

I thought about that simple sentence for the rest of the day—and many days since.  It makes me think of faith.  We all know that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20).  We believe something can be brought to pass but that we must do our part to achieve the miracle.  At first I decided that the villagers clearly didn’t have faith because they didn’t do the works necessary to achieve the desired results.  They didn’t even bother to bring umbrellas for heaven sake!

However, as I have thought more about the situation, I do not believe this has anything to do with a lack of faith.  The villagers did have faith.  They believed it could rain.  They had experienced rain.  It had even rained in their village before.  What is more, they put their faith into action.  The gathered together as a community to petition heaven for that which they desperately needed.  That is works.

So what was missing?  The companions of faith—hope and charity.  There is a reason these three walk together.  In our story, the village did have faith; and they put their faith into action.  But they didn’t bring umbrellas because they had no hope of rain.  Hope is an assurance of things not seen, an expectation (Hebrews 11:1).  For our villagers, there were no clouds in the sky.  So even though they prayed, they did not expect a rain—all except one small boy that is.

So it is in our lives.  We can believe that God is there and hears and answers prayers.  We can see the blessings He bestows in the lives of those around us.  We know that He can do the same for us personally.  But just because we know He can, do we know He will?  Do we expect the blessing?  We may have faith, but do we have hope?  Or is our faith hopeless?  Do we get caught just going through the motions with no expectation of realizing our desired result?  (See Mormon 3:12, 5:1-2.)

And finally, charity.  Charity is the pure love of Christ.  With our faith and hope we must have love.  We must love God enough to trust that He knows best.  We must love Him enough to trust in His eternal vision and timeline.  We must love Him enough to wait patiently upon the Lord without becoming bitter or resentful towards Him or those around us that may be receiving the very blessings we seek.  (See Hebrews 6:9-19 and Moroni 7:40-48 for a summary of this interconnectedness of faith, hope, and charity.)

I am grateful for that one-line email.  I am grateful for the added depth and understanding I have received as I have pondered its simple message.  I am grateful for the connections I have discovered and have been taught about faith, hope, and charity.  I want to apply these attributes more completely in my life.

In other words, I want to pray for rain on a cloudless day while waiting patiently beneath my open umbrella.

Written: August 27, 2017

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