Sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned. You walk through a door and it seems like life took a wrong turn. You found yourself in the desert. A drought of epic proportions. And adversity is on every side.
I love Psalm 84:5-7 where it says, “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You;" You are not in the desert to die, you are in the desert so God can show you a new way to live. “Whose heart is set on pilgrimage;” Some droughts are short, some can be longer. Don’t give up! You have grace for today. “As they pass through the Valley of Baca;” The Valley of Baca this scripture speaks of was desert country. It was filled with thorns, wild animals, vipers, and all kinds of danger. It was nearly impossible to travel through this valley without extreme hardship and suffering. Yet this valley was the only passageway into the high hills where Israel’s Cities of Refuge was located. Some scholars state the Valley of Baca was also representative of the valley that led to the city of Jerusalem, where the temple of God was found.
When we’re going through a drought we have three options. We can look down. That’s not good because we only see the ground. We can look straight ahead. That’s better, but the human eye can only see so far. Or we can look up. When we look up, we look to God. God sees what we could never see. He sees the City of Refuge and will give us faith to keep walking until we get there.
The scripture goes on and says, “They make it a spring; The rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength;”
Some of you are facing difficult struggles right now. Some of you have been in droughts in relationships, with sickness, the death of a loved one, your children are struggling, you’re facing financial issues, loss of a job, being faced with overwhelming obstacles for months and maybe even years. You’ve forgotten what rain tastes like.
When you’re facing adversity, I believe there are two things that can bring you out of the drought and into an abundance of rain: pray bold prayers and speak the Word of God.
Psalm 34 says, “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me.” Psalm 22 says, “They cried to You and were saved, in you they trusted and were not disappointed.”
Droughts are not the time to complain, they are the time to proclaim. There is no power in complaining. Complaining is the language of the disempowered. When God was bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the promise land, the trip was only supposed to take 11 days. But the children of Israel began to complain and murmur, and what was only supposed to take 11 days took 40 years.
When we’re facing adversity, initially we might need to have an emotional release of feelings so we can get it off our chest. But let me encourage you not to stay in the land of complaining and murmuring. Like the children of Israel it will take you nowhere. Begin to pray bold prayers.
There is a story in Jewish history that my friend Mark Batterson shares in his book, The Circle Maker. It’s the story of how one man dared to pray bold prayers and became a legend to his people. Mark writes:
It would be forever remembered as THE DAY. In 1000 BC a drought had been going on for over a year. Leaders had tried different methods to call down rain from heaven. No rain. When rain is plentiful, it’s an afterthought. During a drought, it’s the only thought. With a six-foot staff in his hand, an eccentric sage named Honi went to the middle of the town square and began to turn like a math compass. His circular movement was rhythmical and methodical. Ninety degrees. One hundred eighty degrees. Two hundred seventy degrees. Three hundred and sixty degrees. He never looked up as the crowd looked on.
Honi called down rain: “Lord of the universe, I swear before Your great name that I will not move from this circle until You have shown mercy upon Your children.”
Then it happened.
Honi prayed again….”Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain that will fill cisterns, pits, and caverns.”
The sprinkle turned into such a torrential downpour, no raindrop was smaller than an egg in size. Honi stayed and prayed inside his protracted circle.
Once more he refined his bold request: “Not for such rain have I prayed, but for rain of Your favor, blessing, and graciousness.”
It began to rain calmly, peacefully. Each raindrop was a tangible token of God’s grace, healing, hope, love, peace.
What am I saying?
Pray bold prayers. Our God is a big God, so don’t be afraid to draw big circles. Pray bold prayers, not weak prayers. Weak prayers are “just get by” prayers. When you’re in the desert you don’t need to just get by, you need I Declare, He Is Able, prayers.
When our son Connor was two, we faced one of the biggest storms of our life. We experienced the abrupt, life-altering encounter of an autism diagnosis. There were moments of shock and devastation. One minute our child behaves one way, the next minute he doesn’t seem like the same child you’ve known his entire life. When Connor was five, his erratic behavior took a turn for the worse.
I finally came to the point that everyone who has been through a desert reaches and I asked the Lord, “Why?” I wasn’t asking God why we had our son. I loved my son. I was asking, “Why is my son struggling so much?” I’ll never forget that day; I was speaking audibly to God while driving in my car. He was sitting next to me in the passenger seat. I could feel His Spirit. It was God. He wasn’t talking audibly, but it felt like it because I could hear Him speak in my heart so clearly. With tears rolling down my cheeks I asked again, “Why is my son struggling so much?”
And then I heard God speak to me so clearly, “Craig, your child is not a burden. Your child is a gift.” It didn’t register with me at first. Maybe all of my emotions were blocking what He was saying. I said, “I know my child is a gift. I know what you’re saying, but Father, he is struggling so much right now.” Again I heard him say, “Craig, your child is not a burden. Your child is a gift.” This time though, I heard it louder in my heart than the first. “What do you mean, Lord? He’s struggling so badly right now.” Then, like the gentle whisper that Elijah heard in the cave when he felt like his life was over, God said, “Craig, you’re looking at everything that’s wrong with him. You’re not looking at everything that’s right.”
As I tried to wipe my tears, I spoke with a broken voice, “What do you mean, Father?” Then God spoke concisely and clearly, “I am going to use your son to reach millions of people.” It was hard to fathom at the time. It was a very vulnerable place for me. “How is my son going to reach millions of people? He can’t even ask for a drink of water.” God spoke four words to me. These are the four words He will speak whenever you are in a storm or a desert and it looks like there is no way out. He said, “Do you trust Me?” I have to be honest. I didn’t give Him the answer that you would expect from a pastor, such as, “Oh, great God of the stars, skies and universe, I trust You in my time of need.” Instead, I just spoke from my broken heart, “Father, you’re all we’ve got. I trust you.”
“Craig! Craig! Get up here!” I heard my wife yelling from Connor’s bedroom. I thought something was seriously wrong, so I ran upstairs as fast as I could. “What is it?” I asked. “I was praying with Connor before bedtime when all of a sudden he began to speak,” she said with tears in her eyes. With a puzzled look on my face I asked, “What do you mean he began to speak?”
We hadn’t heard our son string several words together in three years. “He began to speak, saying one word after another word, one sentence after another sentence—a whole paragraph,” she replied. I couldn’t believe what she was saying to me, and tears began to well up in my eyes.
An unrehearsed destiny was about to happen, and I didn’t even see it coming. “What did he say?” I asked. My wife took me by the hand and walked me to Connor’s bedside. “Say it, Son. Say it again for Mommy and Daddy,” she asked him.
My son slowly lifted up his head, and all of a sudden, he began to speak, “This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today I will be taught the word of God. I boldly confess, my mind is alert, my heart is receptive, and I will never be the same. I am about to receive the incorruptible, indestructible, ever-living seed of the word of God. I will never be the same, never, never, never, I will never be the same in Jesus’ name, amen!”
Those were the first words and sentences Connor had spoken in three years. It was unreal. When you pray bold prayers, what seems impossible become possible again.
The second thing you have to do when you’re facing adversity is to speak the Word of God! The Word of God is powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. When we were going through challenges with Connor, we began to search out scriptures on healing, restoration and peace. We found 30 scriptures and every night before bed we began to speak them over our son. Not only was God listening, Connor was listening. Connor started memorizing these scriptures and soon he had memorized all 30 scriptures. He would speak them in the car, at school, and during dinner time. One day, he cut his foot and you could tell it hurt him. As his mom was putting medicine on him all of a sudden Connor said, “If anyone among you is sick, let him call for the elders of the church and they will pray over them.” Wow! My wife and I were amazed he was using scripture to respond to his feeling of being hurt.
My wife and I continued to pray bold prayers and speak God’s Word over our son. We drew our circle around him and our house. As we did, the droughts we had faced for years begin to shift. We literally saw God do miracles in our son’s life.
You may be in a drought today. You may have forgotten what an abundance of rain feels like. But I believe there a shift that is about to take place. If you will pray bold prayers and speak the Word of God over your situation, things will begin to shift. Begin to declare, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I shall not die, but live and declare the works of The Lord. God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.”
Once you’ve conquered your drought, you won’t respond to the next drought in the same way. You move from survivor to overcomer. Your test becomes your testimony. You live in the vision of the future, not in the circumstances of the now.
If God could do it for us, he can do it for you. You’re becoming a Champion over your circumstances. It’s not only for you, but for all the lives you will touch through your testimony. I am believing with you that you are coming out of the drought, and into an abundance of rain.