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When in Drought

by Holly Swafford


O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

Psalm 63:1


I’ve always liked plants, but this year I got a new appreciation for them. After having a summer job at a greenhouse, I’m becoming a real “plant mom.” I have a few houseplants around my room now. Trying to keep them alive can be tricky, so I’ve done a little research to know what each plant needs.


Not long ago, I was googling some tips on how to care for schefflera, a small tropical tree, and found that some plants actually require drought. It caught my interest, and I’ve looked into it more since then.


What I found is that certain plants require this drying out period to prevent their roots from rotting. If they are watered too frequently the roots will be too wet, and they won’t be encouraged to stretch out and grow longer as they search the soil for moisture. When these plants are allowed to experience drought, they become more resilient against harsher climates. They can take more heat and survive without coddling.


Plant life and drought got me thinking about spiritual life and drought. None of us like spiritual drought—those times when we don’t feel God like we want to. Nothing makes sense. We would rather be walking beside the still waters or in the green pastures where we can rest easy.


However, at times, God takes us right into the middle of a drought instead. The grass is gone, a cloud of dust blocks our vision, and we’re thirstier than we’ve ever been (and that’s actually a good thing!).


1 Kings tells us that Elijah went through a time just like this. He lived through a spiritual and a very physical drought. Because of the moral depravity of the nation, God punished Israel with a dry season.


Elijah was at the forefront as God’s prophet during this time. He was the one chosen to give God’s command for the drought. This made him anything but King Ahab’s favorite, Elijah found himself running for his life. This prophet was in a dry place spiritually. The creek that God sent him to eventually dried up before his eyes. With doubts and droughts all around, Elijah may have started wondering if God still cared for him.


But God knew why he had sent the drought, and used it to prove Himself to Elijah. After the last drop of water in the creek had evaporated into the arid sky, God told Elijah to go to the widow’s house where he had already prepared a place for him.


Even still, his trial didn’t end there. Somehow he ended up under a juniper tree wishing for the end of life. But in his place of difficulty, God was still mindful of Elijah. He ate from angel’s hands and heard the still small voice of the Almighty giving hope for better days. The drought would end, and he, as well as Israel, would come out stronger for it.


There are droughts we all must go through in life. Things can feel hopeless, and we can feel helpless. Let these droughts make us thirstier for God than we have ever been. Let us cling to His every Word and go to prayer with a greater urgency to abide in His Spirit.


Maybe you can’t understand why you are here in this dry place. It had come about from circumstances beyond your control. Maybe it has come because of another’s failure to obey God. Maybe it is your own mistakes in life that have brought you here. It feels like your own fault. But keep on trusting. God can use droughts for our good, even the ones that we bring on ourselves at times.


Reach out to the source of Living Water like the roots of plants reach out for a source of earthly water. You will come through better after the drought is done and the rain of His Spirit has fallen on your heart once again.


When in drought: keep praying, trusting, and hoping. The Lord has a purpose. It’s all a part of His care plan for you. He knows just when to pull you out!


And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought….and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:11


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