Putting Jesus Into Real Life
|May 19th, 20th- Spiritual Drought|
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
It was called the Dust Bowl. In the 1930's a severe drought coupled with over-farming caused the top soil on the American planes to, literally, blow away. The enormous black clouds of dust that formed would darken out the sun, and traveled all the way to New York City.
For the people on the planes, “Okies” as they were often called, life hit rock bottom. Their once booming farms became completely worthless, and everyday became a battle just to survive.
In his book “The Worst Hard Times,” Timothy Egan tells the story of life in the Dust Bowl, and the story was not a pleasant one.
“The bust left the Hendersons living a subsistence life...They lost the phone, the newspaper, the garden, the farm animals, and all their crops. By 1934, they had gone three years without income from the land. Caroline's daily tasks began to seem ever more meaningless and hopeless. She clung to small things—a houseplant in the windowsill, pictures of the farm when it was full of grain, a belief in tomorrow. And through the first three years of the dust, she never lost her faith in the land...
She made hand towels out of cement sacks and used cheap lye for washing clothes, though it left her hands so dry it frightened her. By 1934, they did not even bother to plant a crop. The Hendersons had some chickens, a few farm animals, and a garden, enough to keep them alive. Caroline gathered cow chips for fuel, but as the pasture disappeared, and the animals starved, the supply of “prairie coal” dried up as well...
'We dream of the faint gurgling sound of dry soil sucking in the grateful moisture,' she wrote to a friend in the east, 'but we wake to another day of wind and dust and hope deferred.'”
Have you ever been in a drought? No, I don't mean a crops-dry-up kind of drought, I mean a heart-dries-up kind of drought. They happen to all of us. Sometimes they are emotional, sometimes they are spiritual, and sometimes they are both. In fact, often they are both, for the spiritual and the emotional are more closely connected then we realize.
In a severe drought, you cannot find God. Like the disappearing rains, He is gone. And day after day after day, you look up to the sky, waiting; yet His rains don't come, and your heart grows dry and cracked like the prairies of the Dust Bowl.
As Proverbs puts it, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and your heart is in intensive care. Why doesn't He rain down? Why doesn't He change these circumstances and flood this land? Is He not there? Can He not do it? Is none of this true?
But there is a funny thing about hope; it isn't genuine until it has been severely tested. G.K. Chesterton wrote, “As long as matters are really hopeful, hope is a mere flattery or platitude; it is only when everything is hopeless that hope begins to be a strength at all.”
I don't pretend to understand the mind of Providence, but it seems that droughts are a test, to see what your hope is made of. Will you wait for the rains even when the enormous clouds darken out the sun? Will you wait for the rains even when all the crops have withered up and died? Will you hope even when things have gone past hopeless?
All I know about droughts is that the people who have been through them are tougher, stronger, and more grateful for the rain. So don't give up. Keep looking to the skies. The rain may not come today. It may not come tomorrow. But it will come. And when it does, soak it up...like a dry and thirsty land.