The Reason for the Drought

We’ve been in a bit of a drought. It has a way of creating tension, stress, and even desperation.

Even though I’m not farming and suffer no major ill from the lack of rain, there’s something deep inside that feels a growing need for it. The land is parched, and it somehow feels like my soul is too.

The Israelites had a far more serious drought. It got so bad that they turned from the God of all gods and started entreating Ba’al, the storm god, for a quick fix. They tried everything, his prophets cutting themselves and chanting wildly. Nothing happened.

It didn’t rain until Elijah, the prophet of God, had humiliated the prophets of Ba’al and their god. It didn’t come until every other option had been exhausted; all the magic and spells and chanting and attempts to make nature and gods bargain with them ran out. They were broken, embarrassed, and without hope. The people had nowhere to turn except God himself, surrendering to his power over creation.

Then “a cloud no bigger than a man’s fist” appeared on the horizon, followed shortly by dark skies and a deluge.

This is the pattern of God’s creation in the natural world. The seasons and cycles push to the breaking point. When it appears the earth can’t take another day without rain, or another day without sun, or another day of freezing cold and snow, it breaks. Some things die off during the harsh season. They make way for fresh blooms and strong new growth.

This is no mistake. Our spiritual life is not separate from the created order. Creation is a teacher, a guide, and a companion. During the abundant season, we stray from Truth and seek folly. The early part of the drought doesn’t brings us back either. Instead, we seek to bargain with lesser gods, or go on our own strength. The drought persists and persists until we run out of options and are fully broken. Only then does that precious rain cloud appear.

One more detail from the story of Elijah. In the showdown with Ba’al, the final stretch of the drought needed to kill off what was corrupting, Elijah did something crazy. He setup and altar for sacrifice, but did not light the fire, saying God would do it and thus demonstrate his power. But he also dug a trench around the altar and called for many large barrels of water to drench the entire thing and fill the trench.

In the middle of a drought, where even the horses could hardly find a creek to water in, Elijah poured out large stores of water on the altar before God. A final act of complete surrender to His power and possibility.

God sent fire to consume everything. The meat, the wood, and even all the precious water on and around the altar.

Only after that did the tiny cloud come, just on time.