[forthright] The Dry Years 2

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 10 Jul 2008 07:34:26 -0700 (PDT)
Forthright Magazine
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Straight to the Cross


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COLUMN: FIDELITY

The Dry Years (2)
 by Mike Benson

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" (p. 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."

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?'"/2

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 thee 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?

1/ (Robert Browning Hamilton, Along the Road).
2/ Guy N. Woods, "The Blessings of Adversity," Gospel 
Advocate, Oct. 18, 1979, 643.

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