My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. -Psalm 22:1-2
Before Jesus quoted this psalm from the cross, they were the words of the psalmist, King David. David had a close, intimate walk with God. At times his own sin created a chasm in that relationship, but at other times God simply seemed to disappear from his life for no rhyme or reason. Though he sought God, he could not find him, and his soul became parched and longed for the renewing of that relationship. As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before my God? (Psalm 42:1-2).
I have found that there are seasons in our lives in which God intentionally creates “dryness.” He moves away from us (not physically, of course, but in terms of being near us in Spirit) so that we will learn to rely on his strength and not our own. I do not know exactly why God does these things. There is no question that we are often the instigators of our own spiritual dryness, walking away from the Lord in sin and disobedience (Psalm 51:11), but sometimes it happens in spite of our faithfulness to Scripture reading, prayer, regular worship attendance, and Christian service. For me, at least, dry seasons come at unpredictable times. Busyness, lack of prayer, emotional or physical trauma, or idleness can certainly be factors, but I have found that there is no real pattern. In a couple of seasons in my walk with the Lord, like King David, even as I sought him I could not find him. Although I cannot always put a finger on how or why, I can say my walk with the Lord is always stronger after these periods of dryness, not weaker. Somehow, mysteriously it seems, God uses these times to build me up rather than tear me down.
I have no pat answers for those of you who have shared with me that you are suffering through dry periods in your walk with God. The short answer is, “He’s God, and he does as he pleases” (Dan. 4:34-35). I have found that I usually do not see a breakthrough until I have searched my own heart to see if I am harboring a secret sin. If I do not find that God is trying to make me aware of a pattern of sinfulness in my life, I simply ask God to do what he wants to do with me, and to do it quickly if it should please him. Sometimes I just need to wait quietly before God. I have a tendency, at times, to undo myself with my doing. Maybe that describes you as well.
For those who truly know God, and seek him in order to know him, these dry periods are intended for good, not evil. Keep seeking him, even with tears, and wait for him to show you his presence again. The Psalms, I have found in my own life, are a wonderful place to dwell in reading and meditation during these periods of life. God will come to you again, and you will be better off for the waiting. As a result of these lonely times, you will learn to say with Moses, “If your presence does not go with me, do not send me up from here (Ex. 33:15).”
Grace and peace,