Home | Archives | Guest Book | Links | churches of Christ | Contact Us
Plan of Salvation
 | Correspondence Course | Daily Bible Reading | Store | World Evangelism
Gospel Gazette Online logo

Serving an international
readership with the
Old Jerusalem Gospel
via the Internet.

Vol.  10  No. 10 October 2008  Page 14
powered by FreeFind
Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20

Mike BensonThe Dry Years

By Mike Benson

In their book, Why Me?, Pesach Krauss and Morrie Goldfisher tell a story about two men who cut down an aged hardwood. The woodcutter’s observations about the inner rings within the old tree are compelling:

…I sometimes tell patients the parable about the two wood choppers who had taken down a tree that was over one hundred years old. Looking at the growth rings to determine the tree’s age, the younger man noticed that there were five very narrow rings. He concluded that there had been a five-year-drought, during which the tree had shown very little growth. However, the other lumberman, a wise, old man with a philosophical bent, had a different viewpoint. He contended that the dry years actually were the most significant in the tree’s history. He reasoned: Because of the drought, the tree had to force its roots down further to get the water and the minerals it needed. With a strengthened root system, it was able to grow faster and taller when conditions improved. (71)


1. All of us inevitably experience “dry years” at some juncture in our lives. “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life” (2 Corinthians 1:8; cf. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28). Like the apostle Paul, we can identify with those occasional periods of trouble and burden; they are an inescapable part of the human condition (cf. Psalm. 90:2; Job 14:1; 2 Corinthians 12:7).

2. “Dry years” tend to be intense, but limited in duration. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7). “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17; cf. Romans 8:18). In a manner of speaking, a part of what I hear Peter and Paul saying is that while a five-year drought is harsh and difficult to tolerate, it eventually comes to an end.

3. The “dry years” can be a time of internal growth and maturity. The Psalmist observed, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word” (Psalm. 119:67). “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statues” (Psalm. 119:71; cf., Genesis 50:20; Job 23:10; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Hebrews. 12:11). In his book, The Heart of a Champion, Bob Richards communicates these same truths. He writes, “I’ve never read the story of a great man without finding that at some time or another in that man’s life he went through days of hurt. And it was the molding influences of the hurt that made the man what he was. It’s a great principle for life. It’s the heart of a champion” ( 42). That sounds like the Bible, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3; cf., Romans 5:3-4).

“I walked a mile with Sorrow
 And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh, the things I learned from her
 When sorrow walked with me.”
(Robert Browning Hamilton, “Along the Road”)

4. Often times, strength during adversity is drawn out of the resources generated during the “dry years.”

John Bunyan, imprisoned in Bedford jail, wrote of his trials as a “pulling of the flesh from the bone.” His experiences seemed to him to signal the end of a useful life. Out of those lonely years came Pilgrim’s Progress. Victor Hugo, at the zenith of his mental and intellectual power, came into disfavor with Napoleon III, and suffered exile for nineteen years. This was by him and his friends regarded as unmixed tragedy. They were wrong. Hugo’s biographer informs us that during these years “books that were far stronger than anything that had gone before came from his hand,” and that during his exile, “he became twice the size of man he had been.” Even Hugo commented, “Why was I not exiled before?” (Woods 643).

When civil war broke out between Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, the Benjaminites exhibited an unusual resiliency. The text says, “Among all this people there were seven hundred select men who were left-handed; every one could sling a stone at a hair’s breadth and not miss” (Judges 20:16). It is interesting to note that the English word rendered “left-handed” in the Hebrew means bound of the right hand. History suggests that when soldiers were captured in battle, they were often taken to an enemies’ camp where their right hands were then cut off. In a very real sense, they were “disarmed.” It is entirely possible that these seven hundred soldiers had originally been right-handed, but had lost their hands in this gruesome fashion. If this is the case, then we have an inspiring Bible example of men whose “dry years” became the catalyst for greater physical skill and prowess.

Dear reader, take a long, hard look at those “narrow rings” from the dry years of your life. Are they indicative of regression and spiritual withdrawal, or do they identify certain perseverance and deepening faith?

Works Cited

Krauss, Pesach and Morrie Goldfisher. “A Time of Trouble Is a Time To Grow.” Why Me? – Coping with Grief, Loss, and Change, 71.

Woods, Guy N. “The Blessings of Adversity,” Gospel Advocate, Oct. 18, 1979, 643.

Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20