1 Kings 17:5–7
One morning Elijah noticed that the brook wasn’t gushing over the rocks or running as freely as it had in days past. Since that single stream of water was his lifeline, he checked it carefully. Over the next few days he watched it dwindle and shrink, until it was only a trickle. Then one morning, there was no water, only wet sand. The hot winds soon siphoned even that dampness, and the sand hardened. Before long, cracks appeared in the parched bed of the brook. No more water. The brook had dried up.
Does that kind of experience sound familiar to you? At one time you knew the joy of a full bank account, a booming business, an exciting, ever-expanding career, a magnificent and exciting ministry. But the brook has dried up.
At one time you knew the joy of using your voice to sing the Lord’s praises. Then a growth developed on your vocal chords, requiring surgery. But the surgery removed more than the growth; it also took your lovely singing voice. The brook has dried up.
Your partner in life has grown indifferent and has recently asked for a divorce. There’s no longer any affection and no promise of change. The brook has dried up.
I’ve had my own times when the brook has dried up, and I’ve found myself wondering about the things I’ve believed and preached for years. What happened? Had God died? No. My vision just got a little blurry. My circumstances caused my thinking to get a little foggy. I looked up, and I couldn’t see Him as clearly. To exacerbate the problem, I felt as though He wasn’t hearing me. The heavens were brass. I would speak to Him and heard nothing. My brook dried up.
That’s what happened to John Bunyan in seventeenth-century England. He preached against the godlessness of his day, and the authorities shoved him into prison. His brook of opportunity and freedom dried up. But because Bunyan firmly believed God was still alive and at work, he turned that prison into a place of praise, service, and creativity as he began to write Pilgrim’s Progress, the most famous allegory in the history of the English language. Dried-up brooks in no way cancel out God’s providential plan. Often, they cause it to emerge.