Understanding Dry Spells

The following is a devotion from A.W. Tozer found in his book, The Root of the Righteous. While here in South Dakota this spring has been wet and the fields are soggy, even when the rains fall we can find ourselves in times of spiritual draught.  I post this as encouragement to any who call upon the name of the Lord with a dry throat.

Probably nothing else bothers the earnest Christian quite so much as the problem of those dry spells that come to him occasionally, no matter how faithfully he tried to obey God and walk in the light. He can never predict them and he cannot explain them. And there lies the difficulty.

It might comfort one who finds himself in the middle of an emotional desert to know that his experience is not unique. The sweetest and holiest saints whose feet have graced this earth have at some time found themselves there. The books of devotion which have come to us from the past almost all have at least one chapter dealing with what some of them call “aridity” in the Christian life. The very word describes the experience so many of us known only too well. Our heart feels “arid” and nothing we can do will bring the rain. It is good to know during such an internal drought that it has been a common experience with the saints.

One reason for our distress at such times is the knowledge that sin is one cause of aridity in the life; we naturally reason that if sin brings drought and we are suffering a dry spell, then we must have been guilty of sin whether we know it or not. The way to deal with the problem is to remember that sin is not the only cause of dryness. If after an honest examination of our lives we are sure that we are not living in a state of disobedience and that no past sin is unforgiven, we may dismiss sin as the cause of our dry condition. We do God no honor and ourselves no good by assuming that we have sinned if we have not. Indeed we play straight into Satan’s hands by accepting the morbid suggestion that somewhere in the mysterious depths of our nature there must be some sin that is displeasing God and causing Him to hide His face from us. What God has cleansed we should not call unclean; to do so would be unbelief.

“Religion,” say the theologians, “lies in the will.” What our will is set to do is what really matters at last. Aridity has nothing to do with the will. “If any man will,” said Jesus; He did not say “If any man feel.” Feeling is the play of emotion over the will, a kind of musical accompaniment to the business of living, and while it is indeed most enjoyable to have the band play as we march to Zion it is by no means indispensable.  We can work and walk without music and if we have true faith we can walk with God without feeling.

Normally we may expect some degree of spiritual joy to be present most of the time. Fellowship with God is so delightful that it cannot but provide a large measure of joy; but we are talking now about those times when our joy fades out and the presence of the Lord is felt only feebly or not at all. Such times demand that we exercise faith. Moments of great spiritual delight do not require much faith; if we never came down from the mount of blessing we might easily come to trust in our own delights rather than in the unshakeable character of God. It is necessary therefore that our watchful Heavenly Father withdraw His inward comforts from us sometimes to teach us that Christ alone is the Rock upon which we must repose our everlasting trust.

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