There was a village in the outskirts of a major city. The timing, the location, the season, the language – none of those really matter. What does matter is that the village had not seen rain for days, for weeks, even for months.
The village was predominantly agricultural in nature, and the lack of rain had long ago caused the open market of the village to close down. People were without means to support their families, but nothing new was being planted, no crops were being reaped.
Even the animals of the village were slowly dwindling. The children and the elderly were slowly wasting away, even while the healthy and the middle aged began to suffer from malnourishment and dehydration.
As the supplies dwindled away, the leaders of the village gathered in the home of the village elder and beseeched him for guidance on a way forward.
A week later, the village elder summoned the villagers together and announced that the following day, they would meet together and beseech the Creator to send rain. This was the village’s last chance, as families were scraping together the last scraps of rotten food and remnants. The village elder said that they would call out to the Creator. They would fall on their faces in the dust, tear their clothing as was the custom, and cry out with one desperate voice to the Creator that the rain might fall.
The villagers turned and shook their heads, grumbling to each other. This was the advice the village elder had discerned after all of this, after a week of reflection? To call out to an unseen Creator and assume the Creator was listening, and even cared? Trudging back to their homes, they found themselves painfully aware that everything else had been tried, so why not pray?
That night, each family gathered around their meager table and ate what they considered to be their last meal. No one slept well that night, but as the morning began, the villagers crept out into the middle of the square.
Everyone was accounted for, as they began to cry out, to pray, except one small boy from the poorest family. The shadows from the clouds in the sky darkened the town square, and as they did, a murmur that spread through the crowd, lying on the ground in the midst of the dust. The missing boy had come around an alley corner, bearing something none of them could quite make out, in the shadows.
As the drops of rain began to fall, and then turned into pelting drops that splashed down on the upturned faces of the villagers, and drenched their clothing.
Except for the little boy. He’d brought an umbrella.
[The original idea is not mine, but was adopted from a snippet of a story of unknown origin: “Once all villagers decided to pray for rain.
On the day of prayer all the people gathered,
but only one boy came with an umbrella.”]
I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”