Thursday, July 17, 2014

Spiritual Deserts

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe[a] in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”  The word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord…   1 Kings 17:1-5a (NRSV)

We have all been there…in the valley.  If you’ve worshipped on the mountaintop before, but now you’ve been in the desert for weeks or months; if it’s easier to squeeze water out of a rock than to find the words to pray, then this devotional is for you.  If you’ve ever experienced lasting defeat; if you’ve ever had all that you’ve come to depend on taken away for a season; if you’ve ever had to endure a seemingly endless famine in your life,  my goal is to bring you some hope. And I am especially talking to you, if you are going through a significant period of drought in your spiritual life, when the Lord seems far from you, and His presence seems to be strangely absent.

Spiritual Deserts
Spiritual Deserts are absolutely the most mysterious and difficult times of the Christian life, but they are essential for growth in the faith.  In 1 Kings 17, all of Israel is in a spiritual drought.  There have been 19 evil Kings reigning over God’s people in a row.  And now the worst of them all, King Ahab has taken a strangle hold on God’s people Israel.  He is an idol-serving, pagan-worshipping disgrace.  Even the priests have become corrupt—or they have flat-out run for their lives.  So, to counteract the spiritual drought, God’s prophet Elijah calls for a physical drought which even the famed prophet himself will have to be subject to it.  It was such a drought that not even a drop of dew could be found in the morning!

Droughts happen in every area of life, but the spiritual droughts are the worst.  When the brook runs dry in your soul, the easiest thing to do is to wrap yourself in the cocoon of despair and quit.  But despairing and quitting are hardly ever the godly options.  What are the keys to survival, when your life source evaporates?

First of all, we notice that God still has a plan for Elijah - The word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan  v. 2

A “wadi” is a small body of water that only appears during the rainy season. You know what that means?  It means that God sustained Elijah by a brook of water that SHOULD NOT HAVE EVEN EXISTED AT THAT TIME!

Could it be that the dry spell that you are in right now has a solution that you didn’t even know was possible?  You say you haven’t “felt” God’s presence much lately?  Maybe God is even now giving you strength through a deep-running spring that you didn’t even know existed.

The drought isn’t Elijah’s fault. But Elijah is called to be obedient in the midst of it. You too may be called to obey during a drought that you have absolutely no power to control. This is so hard. 

Sometimes it’s easy to become bitter when you don’t understand.  But understand this: God never calls us to endure a situation that He Himself is not prepared to sustain us through.  He’s the God of unending abundance; the God of surprise endings.  Trust Him. Rely on Him.  Use up whatever faith you have!  It will not be wasted and will be instantly replenished when you finally do see the way ahead.

A child on a sports field may or may not want his/her parents to watch.  If they feel their parent will only chide them for their errors and not rejoice in their accomplishments, they will wish their eyes were not on them.  But a child who knows his parents applaud them regardless of their mistakes and rejoices with them in their victories is pleased to have his parents watch.  God is watching…and that is a good thing.
Scripture to Claim:
I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8

Devotional Archive