For the past several months I have not had the opportunity to sit down and write. We moved to Florida and back to Fort Worth within a span of five months. Having to work graveyard shift for a while didn’t help matters any. And on top of that, there were some health issues. All of those things combined were draining. Hopefully things will settle down now, and I believe they will because I feel called to do this, and when God calls you to do something, He will give you the means to do it.
On Spiritual Droughts,
In the eighth chapter of the book of Amos, the prophet speaks these words against the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel:
“The days are coming” declares the sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
People will stagger from sea to sea, and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”
Amos told the people a famine was coming, but not of food and water. The coming famine Amos warned of was far worse – it would be a spiritual famine during which there would be no word from God. There would be no prophets to deliver messages from God which in turn also meant there would be no one to speak to God on their behalf. There would be no revelation from God.
Though Amos was originally from the Southern Kingdom of Judah, God sent him to preach a message of judgment against the Northern Kingdom of Israel. By the time Amos arrived on the scene, the people of Israel had become very prosperous. Unfortunately, that prosperity did not translate into gratitude to God. Instead, they turned away from the God of their fathers and turned to the false gods that were worshipped by the people of the surrounding countries. So God sent Amos to warn them that judgment was coming. And when that judgment came in the form of an invasion by the Assyrians, the people probably cried out to God and pleaded with Him for deliverance as they had done so many times before. This time however, God would not deliver them. In 2nd Kings chapter 17 we’re told that God “removed Israel from His sight”. And if they were out of God’s sight, it would stand to reason, in a manner of speaking, that they were out of God’s earshot as well! When you cry out to God, nothing can be worse than for God to remain silent. This time their pleas for deliverance would go unanswered. That was the famine. That was the judgment God pronounced on the people of the northern kingdom through His prophet Amos.
Several weeks ago, I experienced what felt like a famine of my own, a spiritual drought if you will. In my case, it was due to a work schedule conflict that kept me from being able to go to church for about six weeks. It was not because God had cut me off, and my drought was not of the same scale and magnitude as what the people of the Northern Kingdom suffered. Nonetheless, I still felt isolated. I felt cut off. It felt like something was missing. It was, for a short time, my own spiritual famine.
Now you might ask if I was praying and reading my Bible during that time and the answer is yes, I most certainly was. I believe in the power of prayer and in the power of God’s word, that they can carry us through times of spiritual famine like the one I was in. So shouldn’t that have been enough? Yes, absolutely. I believe in the sufficiency of God’s word. But God knows how important it is for us to worship with other believers. That’s why, in Hebrews chapter 10, the author reminds us not to neglect meeting together in corporate worship. We still live in a fallen world – we’re sinners saved by grace – yet we’re still subjected to temptation every day. Though we’re in the process of becoming more like Christ every day, we have a ways to go. That’s why we need the fellowship of other believers. We need to uphold one another, to lift each other up. We need the encouragement that we get from being around other believers. And I believe fellowship is vital to our growth as Christians.
To be clear, during that six week time frame, my faith did not waver. There was no danger of backsliding. It was nothing like that. In reality it was a little thing but it was still a tough time. If you’ve ever been away from your loved ones for an extended period of time, then you know what it’s like. If you’ve experienced a prolonged illness or injury that kept you at home or in a hospital for a period of time and unable to get out and go to church, then you may have had that feeling of being in a spiritual drought. But there’s one thing we can always be certain of when we’re in a drought. It’s something I learned while growing up in farm and ranch country in south Texas. Whenever there was a prolonged dry spell, the farmers and ranchers used to quip that they always knew when a dry spell would end. And when was that? When it rains!! It was a little tongue in cheek humor, but they were exactly right. It always rains at the end of a drought!
Amos’s prophecy, as is true of most Biblical prophecy, had a short term and long term fulfillment. In the short term, we know from history that the Northern Kingdom was invaded by the Assyrians and the people were scattered among the surrounding nations. Because of their stubbornness, because they refused to listen to the prophets God had sent in times past, God, as we’re told in 2nd Kings, removed them from His sight. That was the short term fulfillment. In the long term, there would be another famine of hearing the words of the Lord, a period of 400 years during which time there would be no word from God. In our Bibles, this is the period of time between Malachai and Matthew. It’s the Intertestamental Period. Some refer to that time as the “silent years” when there was no word from God.
The years that separated the time of Malachai and the preaching of John the Baptist were indeed a time of spiritual drought. But like I said, it always rains at the of a drought! When Jesus came into the world, He was both the Bread of Life and Living Water. The birth of Jesus, His life, His death, and His resurrection signaled the end of the drought. The Bread of Life and Living Water was made available to everyone who calls on His name and trusts in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of their eternal souls.
In the life of every believer, and for certain in my own life, there was a time of famine, a time of spiritual drought. For the majority of us, before we accepted Jesus Christ and invited Him to be Lord of our lives, we lived in a drought. But the moment we surrendered to Christ, the drought was over. The rains came! They came by way of the blood of Christ shed on the cross for our sins. They came in the form of God’s grace and the promise of eternal life with Christ. Imagine a farm or ranch that gets all the rainfall it needs and never suffers through a drought. Imagine the crops or livestock it would yield! In a very simple way, that describes for us the abundance of God’s grace. We will go through the ups and downs of life, even as followers of Christ. But we can take comfort in the knowledge that God has already given MORE than enough grace to bring us through our times of spiritual drought.
Ephesians 2 verse 8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves – it is the gift of God.
Hebrews 4 verse 16 – Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The grace that saves is the same grace that restores and replenishes! Praise be to God!