"And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up." (1 Kings 17:7)
God sent Elijah to the brook and it dried up. It did not prove equal to the need of the prophet. It failed; God knew it would; He made it to fail. "The brook dried up." This is an aspect of the Divine providence that sorely perplexes our minds and tries our faith. God knows that there are heavenly whispers that men cannot hear until the drought of trouble and perhaps weariness has silenced the babbling brooks of joy. And He is not satisfied until we have learned to depend, not upon His gifts, but upon He Himself. - Rev. Percy Ainsworth
It's incredibly easy to experience a full range of earthly emotions when we can no longer see God's outstretched hand of provision before us. How do we respond when God gives us a clear directive and yet the brook of His provision seems to dry up on us? We all know that He is supposed to provide for all our needs. And, if the God of the Bible is true, why would He fail to care for us? The Israelites (post miraculous deliverance from Egypt) experienced this very thing. A wilderness wandering for 40 years before they received the fulfillment of the promise. In this story of the prophet Elijah, the Lord Himself had called forth a drought on the land and then instructed the prophet to head for the wilderness and be supplied by the flow of a small brook. The same God who supplied was the same God who declined. This is the God we serve. If we could perfectly understand His will in every circumstance we would have no need for the mediator in Jesus and no help from the Spirit that guides us into all truth.
What we can see from Scripture is that the Lord is constantly good and even when He dries up the brook - He also brings instruction and opens wide another way. Had the Lord not dried up the brook, here is what the prophet Elijah would have missed out on:
1. He never would have met a widow who on their introduction said, "I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
2. Elijah met the widow to not only be provided for but to be the provision for them. The Lord used him to save both the widow and her son.
3. Not just once, but on two occasions does the Lord use Elijah to spare the widow's son.
4. He may not have gone back to seek King Ahab (who had turned his back on God and began worshiping Baal)
5. It's likely that Elijah would not have called out the 450 "prophets of Baal" and experienced one of the more incredible miracles in Scripture where he strikes a deal with these prophets saying, "Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God.”
6. Drought may not have ended and the rain may not have come.
So, if you are anything like I am, the first place you run when it becomes clear that the brook of the Lord's provision seems to be drying is a place of complaining, a place of grumbling, a place of hardening the heart. I pray the Lord would give us the vision to see what He has planned far beyond our stay out at the wilderness brook. Maybe he plans to touch some orphans and widows through you. It's possible that His good will is to release you to influence even the Kings and Presidents of the nations. Could it even be that He would work such miracles through your hands that even a whole nation would be turned back? Highly unlikely for the skeptics in us. Praise God that He is never skeptical of His work.
I pray that Jesus would soften our hearts, setting straight our unbelief/grumbling/hardness/whatever-it-is-we-deal-with and move us into the glory of His perfect will, even in the midst of a drying brook.