ministry

Faith in the Drought

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I remember every detail like it was yesterday. Three lanes merged into two, and we hit gravel going about sixty miles an hour. I didn’t have my seatbelt on. I braced and then bounced around inside the car until I was eventually ejected out the hatchback. The car finally stopped after at least three flips and one end-over-end rotation. I was trapped underneath the rear driver side with the wheel spinning next to my cheek. Panic set in as I couldn’t move anything below my waist. After countless medical procedures, several broken bones and seventy-seven long days, I took my first steps without any assistance.

This accident on September 10, 1994 is a defining moment that I revisit when I wonder about my purpose in life, doubt God’s plan or forget his faithfulness. It is a miracle that I am alive today. This event is an anchor for my faith, like the stones of remembrance often found after an Old Testament encounter with the God of Abraham.

Stones of Remembrance

I love the story of Joshua. He was an unexpected leader with big shoes on an incredible, faith-building journey. In Joshua 3, with his toe in the water, he waited for God’s miraculous rescue. Faith. In chapter 5 he circumcised grown men with a sharp stone. Faith. In chapter 6, city walls crumbled at the sound of his trumpets. Faith. By chapter 10, he literally asked God to make the sun stand still. Remembering God’s previous faithfulness grew Joshua’s faith in God’s ability to do more. I believe this is still one way that God grows our faith — he places us in faith-inducing situations.

One of the most faith-inducing parts of Joshua’s story occurs in chapter 4. The Israelites had just walked across the floor of the Jordan during flood stage without even getting their sandals muddy. God quickly instructed Joshua to build a memorial at their campsite. The stones were a testimony of God’s faithfulness.

“For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over… so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.” (Joshua 4:23-24).

This memorial always made sense to me. Yet, for many years, I glazed over verse 9.

“And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the covenant had stood; and they are there to this day.”

What? There were two memorials? Didn’t Joshua realize that flood stage Jordan was going to hide these stones? When would anyone, including Joshua, even be able to see this memorial?

I can think of one time when the stones would be visible: In a drought.

Even during a dry time, God hasn’t forgotten me.

God Is Faithful

God allows us to experience some defining moments, good and bad, and the memorial at the end is public for all to see. Sometimes, though, the memorial is not visible to others. God meets us in a powerful way, and the character building isn’t public. The stones of remembrance are intimate ones between us and our Father. And just like Joshua, sometimes we can’t even see the memorial stones unless we are in a drought.

I am currently enduring a season of drought. Nineteen years of ministry wounds and heartbreaks have wrecked me. The loss of loved ones has left me empty. Unmet expectations have calloused my perspective. I am operating on fumes instead of out of the overflow of a life hidden in Christ. I have been too busy doing ministry to rest and allow my heavenly Father to minister to me. I have lost the joy of my salvation.

Like David, I’m asking God to restore my joy (Psalm 51:12). While there is no secret formula for enduring a time of drought, I believe that there is great value in reminding ourselves of God’s character and presence during dry times. We have an enemy who is looking to devour us (1 Peter 5:8), but we serve a God who sends great rains producing an abundant harvest. Like the Israelites, we must anchor our souls to the truth of our Father’s character.

Here are a few stones of remembrance for us to build upon in a dry and weary land.

Remember that God is faithful. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). How has God been faithful to you? I want to look for opportunities to share about God’s faithfulness and the work of his mighty hand. What memorials is he in the process of building in my life? What testimony is being refined?

Remember that the Lord is near. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). “We were once far off, but through the blood of Christ, we have been brought near” (Ephesians 2:13.) With unfailing certainty, we can be confident that he is near. His nearness comforts us.

Remember the deeds of the Lord. What has God already done in your life? What blessings has he already given? What are the times that you have seen him work so clearly? Take time to reflect and praise him for what he has already done.

Remember that we can pray for rain. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Our father longs for us to ask him for what we need. He delights in giving good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11). The veil has been torn, and we no longer need the intercession of earthly priests. We can ask God to send refreshing rains.

Remember that God sees you. El Roi is a Hebrew name for God meaning, “the one who sees me.” Even during a dry time, he hasn’t forgotten me. He knows me, and he is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

Faith in the Drought

Are you in a season of drought? Has God given you a story that is an anchor of your faith? Ask the Lord to reveal memorial stones in your life. What public or personal testimonies has he given you? Have you been shown grace through an unbearable trial? Maybe you’ve been the recipient of a miraculous healing. Has God rescued you from an enemy?

Sometimes we have difficulty recalling God’s faithfulness in our lives. Our eyes are focused on our obstacles, but God invites us to lock eyes with him. He asks us to seek him and remember his faithfulness. Our circumstances may change, but God is constant. He loves us and he’s for us.

It’s because of this truth that when we’re weary in ministry, hopeless in marriage or stagnant in our careers that we can rejoice. We are never alone, never unloved, never without hope. He awaits our trust in him to make the sun stand still. He wants us to ask him for things.

When a drought comes, we must draw near to our faithful God who sees us. We pray for rain and remember the deeds of the Lord.

Learn More about Suffering and “The Good Life” at The Wisdom Forum.

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Sara Beth Fentress

Sara Beth Fentress is the founder and executive director of 127 Worldwide, a non profit that helps Christians tangibly live out James 1:27. God has grown a passion in her heart for orphan care, advocacy, education and discipleship. She lives in Raleigh, NC and is a covenant member of Imago Dei Church.

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