“We felt we had received the sentence of death, but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” 2 Corinthians 1:9
In the opening paragraph of his second letter to the Corinthians Paul referenced a particularly difficult time he encountered in Ephesus. He wrote that he felt that he had received the sentence of death while in Asia. He was utterly and unbearably crushed, despairing of life. We do not know the specifics, these details do not fit any particular period we know of in Paul’s life. What we do know is that he was walking through a deep darkness. While in that darkness, however, he found the purpose. The challenge made him rely not on himself but on “God who raises the dead.” (1:8-9). He learned to trust God more deeply in a spiritual dry seasons of life.
The dry seasons are a part of every Christian life. How do we handle them? The longer I live as a Christian the more I understand the importance of perseverance. Victory in Christ for me is not a final score at the end of each week. The victory is in the daily walk with Christ. I find new and varied experiences in prayer that I had never anticipated. I find parts of the Bible speaking to me with a special and unexpected relevance. Most important I have learned to pray even when I do not feel the prayers are rising higher than the ceiling. Through these experiences, I am convinced that perseverance and victory are the same.
Paul’s description of God here is important for understanding the spiritual dry seasons. We worship the God who raises the dead. Easter never seemed to be far from Paul’s thinking. Perhaps that’s because new life was so important to him, just as it should be important to you.
There is a resurrection waiting for you every day. The dry seasons will come. You feel like you’re among the walking dead. But remember that you worship a God who raises the dead. Easter Sunday always follows Good Friday. God will not leave you. Persevere. The question we all have is how?
The Discovery Channel was one of the Ellis favorites for most of my children’s early years. We especially liked the nature shows. They’re pretty much all the same, but we still liked to tune in to see what’s eating what. Cheetah’s like Thompsons Gazelles. Lions like zebra for dinner. Nile crocodiles seem to work their way into most every show and eat anything that comes into the river.
And of course drought is a frequent topic. We see animals struggling through the dry seasons. Some migrate. Some endure. Some die. One animal has a unique way of dealing with the dry seasons. It’s called the lungfish. As the water begins to dry up, the lungfish buries itself in the mud. The water hole will completely dry up. The surface will crack from the drought. The lungfish is a few feet down in the mud. When the rains come again, the lungfish senses it, and up it comes into a newly filled pond. The dry season didn’t kill it. It simply adapted and survived.
In the final analysis that is what we must do. Adapt and survive. I would love to believe that we can through physical grit and mental determination always walk to a new source of water. However, I have seen and experienced far too much of the drought, and know that some very good Christians remain in dry places in spite of their best efforts.
The common denominator among the survivors is simply “the will to show up.” They pray, worship, read, and walk the narrow way because of the deep conviction that these practices are right. Personally, I really do not know how to solve all the challenges I face, but I am convinced that I am created to walk with God. I persevere.
I’m very glad love, joy, peace, etc. do not depend on my ability to create them. The good news is we worship a God who raises the dead, in His time and in His way. The greatest gift He gives is not circumstantial victory at the end of every day, but His presence. He is with you, and He does not slumber or sleep. He will make certain you survive the spiritual dry seasons and even grow during them. And when one day we shuffle of this mortal coil, the final verdict will not be defeat, but glory that cannot be compared to the sufferings of this present age.
Dr. Terry Ellis
July 3, 2012