The Dry Years 1

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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. His reason: 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”/1

Observations:

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. 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.

1/ Pesach Krauss and Morrie Goldfisher, “A Time of Trouble Is a Time To Grow,” WHY ME? — Coping with Grief, Loss, and Change, 71.

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