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Surviving the Drought

Here in Middle Tennessee, we are experiencing a severe drought in the summer of 2012. Last month was the second driest June on record, and the area currently has a deficit for the year of about eight inches of rain. To make matters worse, we are also experiencing record high temperatures, which cause any moisture to evaporate quickly. Consequences of the drought and the heat are all around us – dry grass, dying crops, wild fires, burn bans, water restrictions, etc. All of this demonstrates just how dependent we are on rain to sustain us.

As bad as the conditions of our land may be, they cannot compare to the devastating drought in ancient Israel during the time of the prophet Elijah. In 1Kings 17:1, Elijah told King Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” This drought continued for three and a half years and resulted in a severe famine in the land. During that time, Ahab searched for Elijah but could not find him. When at last Elijah came to him, Ahab called him the "troubler of Israel.” However, it was Ahab who had troubled Israel by forsaking God and worshiping idols (1Ki. 18:17-18). Solomon had foretold that such apostasy would lead to drought, and indeed it had (1Ki. 8:35-36).

In the New Testament, James used the drought of Elijah's time to teach a lesson about prayer. In James 5:17-18, he wrote,

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.

The point here is that Elijah was a mere man, but he prayed to God just as we can also do. If his prayer was effective to result in rain (1Ki. 18:41-46), then our prayers can be effective also. Indeed, "the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (Jas. 5:16). Even today, we should pray that God will end the drought, for it is He who sends the rain (Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17). Likewise, we should pray for all other needs that we perceive in ourselves and others.

We can learn other lessons from drought conditions as well. One lesson is that God's word is like rain to refresh and sustain the soul in the midst of a world in spiritual drought. In Isaiah 55:10-11, God said,

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

Truly, God's word is living water for the soul, and it will cause every soul who drinks to flourish, just as God intends. The soul who depends on God's word for sustenance will endure the drought seasons of life, just as Jeremiah 17:7-8 declares,

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”

Another lesson teaches us to be patient and work in preparation for the rain that God will send. A season of drought, whether literally or figuratively speaking, is not a time to complain to God, blame God, or challenge God. Instead, it is a time to prepare to receive God's blessings and trust that He will send them. Follow the words of Hosea 10:12, which says, "Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you.” Ultimately, the blessings of God will come to every faithful Christian when the Lord returns at the last day. To this point, James says,

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (Jas. 5:7-8)

Certainly, any drought of rain is not good, but it is good for us to learn from God's word and our own experiences so that we may know how to endure the droughts of life. God is the giver of every good thing and every perfect gift, and there is no variation or shifting shadow with Him (Jas. 1:17). Therefore, we may trust that He will bless us according to our needs, whether they are physical or spiritual. So then, let us trust in God and heed His word so that we may be blessed like trees planted by the water when the heat and the drought comes. In this way, we may continue to bear fruit for God in any season.

Stacey E. Durham



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