Sunday, June 23, 2013

After a while the Brook Dried Up

First Kings 17:1-7: 
“And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.”

Prophet Elijah was one of the great prophets who lived in Israel. Someone has described him as “the one who must be obeyed.” In his confrontation with the sins of the house of Ahab the king, and the nation Israel, he had prayed that there would be no rain  in the land of Israel. And for a period of three and half years there was neither rain nor dew in the land. He did this because Israel had turned to the worship of Baal and left the living God. The more than three years of extreme drought were to confront the Baal worshipping nation of Israel with the truth of Elijah’s prophecy and, more importantly, with the supremacy of Elijah’s God. The God of Elijah instructed His servant, Elijah to hide himself by the Brook Cherith, and there God miraculously fed him using ravens each day. Elijah had food and drink while the rest of the land suffered from hunger and thirst. 

But after a while the brook dried up. There is no gainsaying the fact that water is a basic necessity. How could the God of Elijah allow the Brook to dry up? How could He do such a thing to His faithful prophet? This and many other questions like this flood our minds when we face difficulties. How could God allow such things to happen to us?

What is a brook in this context? We could define the brook as sources of our natural supply that God uses to meet our everyday needs. To some of us, our employment is our brook. To others, it may be their businesses. Anything that helps you to meet up with your daily needs is your brook Cherith. For many who lost their jobs in the wake of the unending recession, their brooks dried up. The self employed businessmen whose shops went ablaze or were burgled, their brook suddenly dried up. The Kabu-kabu (Taxi) driver whose only car was snatched the other day, his brook has just dried up. Sometimes, God allows our brooks to dry up temporarily or permanently.

Why would God let this happen to us? 

Sometimes our brooks dry up in answer to our prayers. Yes, remember in the case of Elijah he told Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” God answered his prayer. There was no rain and this made the brook to dry up.  Perhaps you have prayed for a better and more manageable Civil Service in this country; for this to come through there has to be some retrenchment. If it happens that you have become one of those retrenched, God has answered your prayer, but you brook has dried-up.

Perhaps, you have prayed asking God to increase your faith. How would you learn to be utterly dependent on God, which is the definition of faith, except the Lord removes some of the things on which you now depend? So do not be surprised then if God permits one of your brooks to dry up so that you will look up to Him alone in utter dependence and faith. Our jobs, our businesses, are brooks which meet our financial needs, and there is nothing quite like the sudden drying up of our financial brooks to test and increase our faith.  This has been my personal experience.

Sometimes we pray asking God to help us experience more of His personal presence in our lives. Someone has said; “The gardener is never as close to the tree as when he is pruning it.” God’s presence is never as real in our lives as when we are having dried-up brooks and looking up to Him for a fresh supply of our basic needs. When we are surrounded by people whom we love and on whom we can depend to supply our basic needs, we soon lose sight of, and contact with God Himself. It is only when our brooks dry-up that we suddenly realize that God’s abiding presence is ever near us.

When God closes a window, He opens a door. 

The drying up of the Brook Cherith led Elijah to a more comfortable and better and more permanent feeding arrangement. Let us continue the narrative from where we stopped earlier.

“Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”  So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”  So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”  And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’” So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.”

When the Brook Cherith dried up, Elijah was given a better accommodation, better living conditions, better feeding arrangement and companions to stay with during the period of the drought. God does not forsake His children and indeed all things work together for the good of those who love Him.

There are many who are reading this whose brooks have run dry. I cannot for certain know exactly how you feel about it but one thing I am sure is that it hurts and sometimes very badly. I also want you to know that God knows that your brook has dried up. He knows how you feel and how hard it bites. I do not know how long your brook may remain dry, but it would not be dry one hour longer than is necessary. Sometimes, it might be temporary but it could also be permanent. There is one thing I want you never to rule out; your dry brooks may lead to a better source of water supply. Your present predicament could be wings to carry you over your difficulties. Remember, you will never know the joy of being found until you are lost. Has your brook dried up; wait for a new miracle of fresh supply.

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