Spiritual Drought

Bible Reading: 1 Kings 17; 18; 19

After the widow of Zarephath sacrificed her last meal for Elijah, her daily food supplies were miraculously replenished throughout the remaining time of drought. But it wasn't until after the drought was over, when Elijah brought her son back to life, that she said, "NOW I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth" (17:24). We are often unable to see God at work while we are in the middle of a spiritual drought but, when the drought is over, we know that God was with us and that his word is truth.

Elijah was the instrument of God's power in sustaining the widow and her son, raising the widow's son back to life, calling fire down from heaven at Mount Carmel, and ending three and a half years of drought with a heavy rain. He had miraculously demonstrated God's mighty power; yet, when Queen Jezebel threatened his life, he "was afraid and ran for his life" (19:3). In one day, he dropped from the mountain of victory into the desert of depression, both literally and emotionally. He suddenly doubted the truth he had just boldly displayed to the followers of Baal, who had fallen prostrate and cried, "The Lord--he is God! The Lord--he is God!" (18:39)

Alone in the middle of the desert, Elijah now sat in despair and prayed, "I have had enough, Lord. Take my life" (19:4). After he slept, an angel came and gave him food and water. He then slept some more and was ministered to again. Then the angel said, "Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you" (19:7). "Strengthened by that food," he traveled for 40 days to a cave in Mt. Horeb, "the mountain of God" (19:8).

God told Elijah, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by" (19:11). God sent a powerful wind, an earthquake and a fire, but God was not in any of those things. His presence was found in a gentle whisper (19:12). God then spoke to Elijah and told him what he wanted him to do.

I find it interesting that God didn't give Elijah any big answers while he was deep in depression. He just met his physical needs (rest, food and drink) until he had the strength to make the long journey ahead. When my world fell apart after three wonderful years full of God's blessing, I experienced three years of deep depression. I desperately grasped for some insight that would make sense of things, some revelation that would make everything clear, some lesson that I was supposed to be learning, some hope that I could cling to. I wished God would show himself to me in some big, grand way with a clear, loud voice that I couldn't miss - an exciting change in our circumstances, a miracle, a vision - something that would prove that he still cared.

God didn't splash his presence across the sky, but he did occasionally whisper to my heart, "I'm here." When I was too exhausted to face the days ahead, he knew the journey was too much for me and he let me rest while he met my basic needs. He gave me the strength to get through each day as I journeyed through my spiritual desert. As he strengthened me more and more, I began to work through my pain and move slowly forward. As I crawled out of my cave, he calmly stood beside me, waiting patiently for me to quiet down enough to hear him. I couldn't find him in the grandiose things, but I found him in a gentle whisper. He began to put my life back together and gave me a new hope. He set my feet on a new path - not the one I had hoped for, but a better one. NOW I know that the Lord is God and the word of the Lord is truth. NOW I see the glorious display of his presence splashed across the sky every day and every night as I gaze at his marvelous creation and he whispers to my heart, "I'm here."