By Sharon K. Perkins
“. . . for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth,
parched, lifeless and without water.” ~ Psalm 63:2
This past summer, parts of the southern United States suffered through an extended period of drought compounded by a record-breaking heat wave, replacing once-green landscapes with dried-up ponds, sun-scorched vegetation, and thirsty livestock. This was certainly the case in my home state of Texas. If not for water reservoirs in the area, the effects of the drought would have been even more dire. After months of praying for relief and anxiously scanning the horizon for dark clouds, I rejoiced at the arrival of a cool front and a long-overdue thunderstorm to relieve the land that had undergone so much stress.
Stressed-Out and Dried-Up
In retrospect, I reflected on how prolonged or compounded stress—whether physical, mental, or emotional—often has the same kind of effect as drought has on the land, especially when I’m unprepared for it. In my usual state, I can competently handle the various challenges of daily life. But then something—usually several things at once—comes along and knocks me for a loop. Before long, my energy is depleted, and I become prone to fatigue, absent-mindedness, and even depression. Even worse, my prayer life “dries up,” and like those five foolish bridesmaids in the gospel, I’m left standing in the dark with an empty lamp.
The Grace of Spiritual Drought
It’s in times like these that God reminds me of the hidden snare of self-sufficiency—when I foolishly overestimate my abilities and resources for whatever comes my way. Although unexpected trials come to everyone, the difference between utter depletion and hopeful endurance usually depends on the reservoir of prayerful trust in God that one nurtures and guards during the more tranquil times. Those periods of inner drought are a “holy prompt” to replenish my spiritual lamp often lest it burn out. They encourage me to keep searching the horizon for the Lord’s refreshing presence, thirstily seeking God as one searches for wisdom. And in seeking, I am not disappointed, for as “wisdom sits by the gate to be found at dawn,” I find the Lord to be ever near and waiting.
Lord God, help me always to be aware of my thirst for you, especially in times of crisis, but even more in times of ease. Let me look to you alone for my soul’s refreshment and peace, and help me to build a reservoir of trust in your goodness. Amen.
Call to Action
Recount a time when you experienced desolation and dryness in a time of personal crisis. How can you avert the self-sufficiency that leads to emptiness and build a spiritual reservoir of hope and trust?
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