We thought it was going to be a disaster. Droylsden Methodist Church had put a lot of work into preparing a community fun day – there was face painting, balloon modelling, a bouncy castle, and lots of cake. But the weather forecast was horrendous, and we awoke to pouring, unrelenting rain. As we sploshed through the puddles on the car park, we expected that nobody would come and all our work would be wasted.
And we were completely wrong. The hall was heaving with folk, the queue for the bouncy castle was out the door, and the kitchen staff deserved a medal for their non-stop flow of hot dogs and tea. An indoors event turned out to be the ideal place to take the children on the first day of the holidays. God was definitely at work that rainy day in Droylsden.
It’s easy to be downhearted as we look at the world around us. Wildfires are raging across Greek islands, a marker of increasingly violent climate change. War in Ukraine is destabilising a whole region and threatening world food supplies. Here, the cost of living crisis hurts more and more people. We might feel that we are caught up in a rainy, rainy day.
Yet God is bigger than our imaginations can conceive. God has more possibilities in store than we can envisage. This is why hope is one of the core characteristics of our relationship with God. Even when things go smoothly, it can be a bumpy ride – Charles Wesley wrote: ‘My every weak though good design improve or change as seems thee meet’ (StF 546), and it’s not always comfortable to find God improving on our pet ideas. When we face real difficulties, it’s even harder to believe that God does indeed ‘have the whole wide world in his hands’ (StF 536) or that we might have a role in collaborating with God to make a difference.
Yet we worship a God who continually does the unexpected. God came to share our life in Jesus. God allowed the Son to face the death of the Cross. God broke open the tomb and raised Jesus to new life. And in the intimate detail of human life, God also acts to restore and renew. So, however rainy the day, we can keep on hoping and trusting, as we ‘trace the rainbow through the rain’ (StF 636) and believe that our God can and will turn disaster into joy.