The Blessing of Barrenness

Many old western movies have begun with that scene of a deserted town with the wind blowing a tumbleweed down what one time had been a bustling street.  Or there is the scene of a dusty field with the remnants of a crop still there but now its mostly dry parched soil with no sign of life to be found.  Of course, we have all seen the one of the sun beaming down in the desert when the camera slowing moves to reveal the bones of the cowboy that did not survive.  The one thing each of these movie scenes have in common is barrenness.

Barren is a truly harsh word.  It actually means bleak and lifeless.  Other words sometimes used to describe it are unproductive; infertile; unfruitful; desert; desolate; waste; impoverished…nothing good found in this list!  I even decided to ask Google what a barren life is – the answer was “you achieve no success in it.”  It seems to me this is one thing everyone should by all means avoid!

But despite information provided by search engines or images depicted in movies, seasons of barrenness are not always bad.  In fact, there are countless examples of bleak times being the turning point to some of life’s greatest victories.

* Moses is forced to flee from his royal life in Egypt to tend his father-in-law’s sheep on the backside of the desert.  It sure looks like he fell fast and hard, but in Exodus 3, he has an encounter with God through a burning bush that, not only changed his life, but changed a nation.

*  Hannah lived a life of sorrow and humiliation because, according to I Samuel 1:5, “the Lord had shut up her womb.”  Her adversary constantly ridiculed Hannah because of this condition.  But God had a plan – at just the right time she became pregnant and gave birth to a son.  At a moment in history when the nation had become spiritually bankrupt and leaderless, God used Hannah’s son, Samuel, to be a mighty prophet in Israel.

* Paul had been one of the most ardent fighters against the Cross but, after his conversion, used all he had to fight for the Christ of Calvary.  This strong commitment to Jesus led him to be hated by the Jews and imprisoned.  His living conditions were many times harsh and, no doubt, he felt forsaken.  But instead of using this desolate time as an opportunity for self-pity, Paul wrote what are referred to as his prison epistles – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. 

*  John was banished to the Isle of Patmos “for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 1:9) I would imagine those responsible for sending him to this deserted place felt they were getting rid of him but little did they know they were positioning him for a divine encounter with Jesus!  It was during this time of isolation the last book of the New Testament was written.

I must admit my personal desire is to stay as far removed from barrenness as possible.  One of my greatest joys is to look back at the end of a day and see productivity and gain.  I want to think my life counts and my work matters.  The thought of an unproductive life causes indescribable sorrow and disappointment.  But…I have to say sometimes seasons of barrenness come.  From time to time, I find myself in the desert – nothing is working – alone even in a crowd – confused with no direction – wondering if my best days are behind me.  Perhaps that is too transparent, but it is the truth.  It has happened to me, and probably if you are honest, it has happened to you.

But, if we genuinely believe God is at work in our lives always for our good, then we must know there are blessings even in barrenness!  Your prison cell or deserted island can become your place of miraculous provision and revelation. His plan for your life does not stop during the barren season; this season could even be part of the plan.

You may ask, what possible blessing can there be in barrenness?  I do not pretend to have all the answers, but I know from experience there are at least three things that happen when I find myself in the desert.

God Speaks.  The four examples from the Bible I mentioned earlier in the blog have something in common – they all found themselves in a barren place.  Read their stories, however, and you will discover they had something else in common – God spoke to them in their barrenness.

I am convinced the hardest time to hear from God is when we are moving forward with momentum.  Our tendency is to give ourselves to the moment and ride the wave – what we are doing is working so we relax and enjoy it.  God has something to say to us even in these moments but, many times, our spiritual antennae is not operating at full frequency.  But in the valley…in that hard lonely place…we become desperate causing our heart to cry out to God.

God – as the good Father He is – will reveal himself when we cry out to Him in our desperation.  He says things we need to hear.  He gives revelation we could not receive any other time.  He teaches truth that will literally change our life.  He does His best work in us when the distractions of success and busyness of life have subsided.  He has our attention, and He takes advantage of it.

I Have a Great Opportunity to Fully Align with His Plan.  It is so easy to get out of alignment.  This happens with my vehicle occasionally and can cause real damage if it is not corrected.  The problem is it occurs so slightly over time – I can miss it if I am not paying attention. 

In ministry – in life – it is easy to get out of alignment with God’s plan.  We commit to systems.  We listen to the advice of others.  We follow trends.  Often in our effort to do good we try to do things we are not called to do and be things we are not called to be.  Even in sincerity and purity we can become misaligned if we are not careful. 

In my season of barrenness, God speaks, and if I am smart, I listen.  He will show me what needs to come off and what needs to be put on.  He will reaffirm His call on my life and give opportunity for fresh commitment to it.  He will use this experience to shape and prepare me for my next assignment.  This dormant time in my life is not wasted – it is my chance to fully align with His plan.
Others Are Affected.  God’s plan for me in my barren season is not to simply make me feel better but to change me!  His desire is never shortsighted but always far reaching.  His intention is to take me to a higher level and use me in ways I have never even imagined.  His blessing on my life is to make my life a blessing to others.  What happens to me will affect someone else.

The people who saw me exiled to Patmos will hear my revelation.  Those who mourned my imprisonment will benefit from my accomplishments there.  Those who ridiculed my barrenness will have to acknowledge my blessing.  Those who wondered where I have gone will witness my return.  These are things my earlier examples could have said, I will have my own testimony when this trying time comes to an end! My story will affect others and God will get the glory!

As I am writing this blog, I am sensing there will be those reading it who are experiencing a season of barrenness.  You do not understand why things have happened as they have – it really makes no sense.  Perhaps your ministry…or your marriage…or your career…or something else important to you has taken a turn you did not anticipate.  If you could explain it and figure out the why, it would be so much easier to handle…but you cannot.  You are on an island…it is lonely and deserted…the reality of barrenness is staring you in the face.

You can throw in the towel and quit…a lot of others have done this.  You can become bitter and play the part of a victim…that is a common response today.  You can feel sorry for yourself and drown in a pool of self-pity…some would even say you are justified to do this.  You can do any of these things knowing you will not be the first to take whatever route you choose to take.

I am hoping, however, you will have a different reaction to your situation.  Even in your pain and confusion, I am hoping you will start looking for the heart and hand of the Father.  I boldly declare to you; God still has a plan for your life…He is not finished with you…He will make you fruitful and productive again! 

Bishop Tim Hill wrote a song several years ago that speaks directly to those needing the message of this blog.  With his permission I share the chorus of It Will Rain Again –

But it will rain again,
The fruit will fill the vine.
The stalk will bend with wheat;
The grapes burst forth with wine.
So go into the field,
Your work is not in vain.
God promised harvest and I know it will rain.

Get up, my friend.  It is about to rain again on your dry parched heart.  Even with everything going on your life you are about to discover there is a blessing in your barrenness.

8 thoughts on “The Blessing of Barrenness

  1. Just like the song says He’ll Do It Again! You’ve also done it again giving us a unique view of scripture from an angle we had not considered!❤️


  2. I loved this postIt ministered to meI forwarded it to some of my friendsThanks so muchLove you manYou are a blessing


  3. This is so good! I’m glad God still has a plan, even when we can’t see it. To trust and just follow our Lord is the first steps of every assignment.


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