Situations in life such as prolonged illness, a bedridden state or painful problems challenge our efforts to endure and keep a positive attitude. This is illustrated well by a story in the book; "A Time of Trouble Is a Time to Grow." Two woodchoppers cut down a tree that was over one hundred years old. Looking at the growth rings to settle on a decision about the tree's age, the younger man noticed there were five narrow rings. He suggested there had been a five-year drought, during which the tree had shown little growth. However, the other lumberman, had a different viewpoint. He contended that the dry years were the most significant in the tree's history. His reason: Because of the drought, the tree forced its roots further in the soil to get the water and minerals it needed. With a strengthened root, it was able to grow faster and taller when conditions improved. The "dry years" or time of human misfortune can bring about spiritual growth and development. Notice the following scriptures in this regard.

"But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the LORD your God and obey His voice (for the LORD your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them" (Deuteronomy4:29-31).

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you" (I Peter 5:6-7).


No one is immune to the misfortunes, human suffering, and difficulties of life. Joseph, Job, Moses, and Paul all faced real crisis in their lives, yet they all made it through and became victorious. We now read their inspirational life stories in Hebrews Chapter 11. The "dry years" are an effective way of separating the faithful from the faithless. Like the rebellious in the "dry land" (Psalm 98:6) we can remain and perish at the appointed time, or we can use the occasion like the phoenix rising from the ashes. Ezekiel, depicted this idea in the valley of dry bones when he asked, "Can these bones live?" (Ezekiel 37:3). There is always hope even in such dire circumstances. The Lord responded to His prophet about the dry bones. The Lord said, "Behold, I will cause breath to go in you, and you shall live" (Ezekiel 37:5). If God can breathe life into "dry bones," there is also hope for each of us. Whatever the troubles and suffering in life, either physical or spiritual, our God and His word will see us through the difficulties we face (Psalms 119:20).


We have all heard the expression, "Every cloud has a silver lining" and most of us recognize this to be the truth. The inspired writer states, "Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word" (Psalm 119:67). Hardship and affliction has a way of purifying us for service to our King. Those suffering distress will either give in to it or use it as an instrument for inner strength and development. Paul writes, "Though our outward man perish (decay), yet the inward man is renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16). Let us use our difficulties as a lightening rod to grow, in a positive way. James writes, "Count it all joy when you fall in to divers temptations (trials). Knowing this, the trying of your faith works patience" (James 1:2-3). Many suffering "dry years" will be much stronger and much wiser after having passed through the valley.


All of us have faced or will face challenging obstacles. If these conditions are accepted by faith they can help us to grow spiritually and to reach new heights of service. The Bible gives the account of men and women confronted with unbelievable struggles, yet many reached a higher level never before achieved. Acts 8:3 depicts Saul of Tarsus as an arrogant Pharisee making "havoc of the church." This committed Jew became converted to Christ as revealed in the following chapters: Acts 8, 9, 22. Saul terrorized Christians but following his conversion he became the persecuted (Acts 9:23-24). Now known as Paul, he wrestles with a "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). He asked God to remove the thorn, but his request was denied. The text tells us that was necessary to keep Paul humble. "Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and do count them as dung (refuse), that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:8). The apostle's suffering is described as "light, which is but for a moment, and works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul believed the physical distress he suffered was brief in God's great plan, while the "inward (spiritual) man became renewed day-by-day" (2 Corinthians 4:16).

The "dry years" will serve as a way by which the blessings of God become clear in our lives. Let us refuse to cast stones at God, spouse, doctors, friends, or others whom we may blame for our hard times. Consider these "dry years" as an opportunity and learn with grace and dignity the challenge that we must face. An increased faith with an inner strength will surely come to us if we persevere to the end (Revelation 2:10).

"DRY YEARS" ARE THE EXCEPTION NOT THE RULE (They don't last forever)

By Jerry W. Carmichael

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