Living from the Bottom of the Barrel

Sept. 22, 2016 Mary Kassian

Session Transcript

Mary Kassian: I don’t know about you, but I have just had a “buzz”—to be here tonight! Have you? I can hardly wait for tomorrow night—to join with women all over the nation, all over the nations, to cry out to God. But I think there’s something the Lord wants to say to you, here, tonight, to prepare for that.

My little prayer card says that I’ll be praying for women in California. Where are the California girls? Are there any of you here? [enthusiastic response] Have you ever heard of Millbrae, California? No? [laughter] Well, there will be a group of women at Chris Lee’s home in Millbrae, California, praying with us tomorrow night.

How about Milpitas? (Is that, like where they make pitas?) Yep, okay—one person. [laughter] That’s good. They will be joining us from Christ Community Church of Milpitas, tomorrow night, crying out to God.

Now, I was at California once. My husband and I went there on vacation, and we wanted to go for a hike in the Mojave Desert. It was springtime, and I was actually surprised at how beautiful the desert can be in spring.

Being Canadians, and not having deserts in Canada, we were a little bit unwise in how we packed our preparatory backpack. Of course, my husband was in charge of that. Brent was going to pack the backpack. So I said, “Okay, don’t forget the water.” He threw in the water.

He said, “I’d better take my knife.”

And I said, “Okay, why are you taking your knife?”

He said, “Well, there are snakes in the desert.” I don’t know how you battle snakes, but my husband thinks it’s with a pocketknife! [laughter]

So we went on this hike, and we were going to hike to this oasis—it was about fourteen miles. When we started out, it was overcast—about eighty-five degrees—a little bit muggy, but not too bad. And then the sky cleared, and I started shedding layers—and I didn’t really have that many to begin with, truthfully.

I started to get really, really thirsty and parched. So I asked Brent to pass me a bottle of water. I took my bottle of water, and I drank it all. About ten minutes later I said, “Pass me some water.” He gave me another water, and I was sipping away on that water . . . and it was getting hotter and hotter and hotter.

I said, “Pass me another water.”

He reached into the knapsack, and he said, “That’s all I brought for you.”

I said, “Two waters? We’re in the desert! You only brought two waters?”

He said, “Here, you can have mine; I only brought one for myself.”

So he gave me his water. I was drinking that water, and then came to the end of that water and we had no water left. And my fingers were getting all plump like sausages, and my feet weren’t really fitting in my hiking shoes anymore, because I was swelling all up like a balloon, because I had no water.

Is that what happens when you get dehydrated? (I don’t know; I’m from Canada.) But it’s disconcerting when you’re parched and you’re thirsty and you reach out for water—only to find out that you’ve come down to the bottom. Your bottle is empty; you’re down to your little sip left at the bottom—there’s nothing.

You know, that’s what happens in life sometimes, isn’t it? We reach the bottom. There are times when we hit empty, when our circumstances take a change for the worse, or when life presents us with unexpected difficulties—when we’re overextended, when we’re stressed, when we’re burned out. 

There are times when we reach down into our reserves to find that little bit of extra energy or strength or courage or comfort or peace . . . only to discover that we are drained and we’re running on empty.

So this evening, we’re going to be talking about living from the bottom of the barrel. Although the bottom is a difficult place to be, the Bible teaches us that it is the place where we can truly experience God’s provision.

It’s when we reach the bottom of ourselves and our own resources and our own strength that God often pours out His most precious blessings. See, we all go through those times of being stretched so thin that we have got nothing left.

God doesn’t want us just to survive; He wants to teach us how to thrive during those times, and we can do that if we adopt the right mindset.

If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn to 1 Kings 17. I’m going to be reading verses 7–16, but let me just set the background here for you. The passage we’re going to read tells the story of a woman who lived in Greece, in an ancient Greek city. It was along a rocky Mediterranean coast.

The countryside around this city was beautiful. It was dotted with fruit trees and oranges and lemons and all sorts of exotic fruit. A few miles inland were the mountains of Lebanon, which were renowned for their beauty—gorgeous mountains with massive, massive cedar trees, fragrant cedars.

They were a source of building supply. They were actually the cedars that supplied Solomon’s temples—the mighty and beautiful cedars that built his home and his temple. Then there were the waters—the teal blue waters. They were beautiful waters of the Mediterranean.

In those waters were murex shells, which had this strong purple dye, and they were used in the textile industry in the area. The port was bustling in this city, the trade industry was growing, and the economy was strong.

Politically, the king of the region had secured peace and security for the region by arranging the marriage of his daughter Jezebel to the neighboring King Ahab of the nation of Israel. So life was good in this city for the people in this country of Sidon. And life was good for the woman in our story.

She had a husband; she lived in town. She probably had a quaint little house, and she had a beautiful baby boy. She started out in life with all these hopes and expectations, and life was good. Things were going well for her until tragedy struck, and her life began to unravel before her eyes.

We don’t know what happened; Scripture doesn’t tell us. We don’t whether it was an accident at the docks or a heart attack or cancer, but, for whatever reason, this woman’s husband died, and her life was thrown into chaos. She became a single mom with a small child to raise and support.

Somehow, over the next few years, she managed to cobble together her life and make life work. Maybe she took on some contract work of weaving or dyeing textiles. Maybe she just volunteered. Maybe she rented out a room in her house. We don’t know what it was that she did. 

Finances were tight; she was lonely, probably, and tired, but she managed to hold it all together. That is, until the economy crashed. Spring came, but the rains didn’t come. No rain meant no crops. The fruit and cedar trees were shriveling up, and so was the economy.

And it wouldn’t have been so bad if they could have imported food from another region, but the whole area was struck with the crippling famine. Trade and commerce, which were so robust in the area, came to a grinding halt.

So this woman didn’t see it coming—or maybe she did see it coming, but it didn’t lessen the sting when it actually happened. She lost her means of support. She wasn’t able to get food anymore; she wasn’t able to provide for her son anymore. Maybe she got laid off; maybe she lost her job.

The economy was bad—it was really bad—and no one could afford to give them handouts. She had no husband, no friends, no family to turn to, no job, and she had hardly anything in her cupboard. She tried to ration what she had left—the remaining food supply—to portion out a little bit for each day, but it wasn’t long until all the dried fruits and vegetables were gone.

She did have a small jug of flour and a jar of oil left, so she and her son began to live on bread and water. Every day as she flattened and baked her little cake that she was going to feed to her little son, she prayed for rain. But every day, the sun blazed hotter and hotter until one morning, the inevitable happened. 

She reached into her supply of flour and her supply of oil and hit the bottom. And I can imagine, as I’m imaging this woman’s life and the reality of it (this isn’t an abstract story; it actually happened), that she probably also hit the bottom of her emotional barrel and started to come apart at the seams.

Life had dealt her so many hard blows; she just couldn’t handle it anymore. Death would be a welcome relief. So from the dusty backyard, her little son cries out, “Mama. Mama! When are we going to eat?” And stifling her sobs, the woman replies, “It won’t be long, son. I just need to go and get some sticks for the fire.”

She can’t bear to tell her boy that it’s going to be their last meal. Slowly and with a heavy heart, she makes her way out to the edge of town and starts to gather sticks. And that’s where 1 Kings 17 picks up her story. Let’s read, beginning from verse 8:

Then the word of the LORD came to [Elijah], "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you." So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink." And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." And she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now 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.” And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah” (vv. 8–16).

The Bible is full of stories of people who hit the bottom of the barrel, like Joseph who was thrown into the bottom of a pit, or Paul and Silas who were thrown into the bottom of a prison cell, or the three friends who were thrown into the bottom of a furnace. Or how about Samson who reached the bottom of his strength, or the disciples who had no fish in the bottom of their nets? We can empathize with these people, can’t we? Because we know what it feels like to hit the bottom. I do . . . do you?

At times, life disappoints us, friends hurt us, family relationships get messed up, children rebel, businesses fail, churches get caught in conflict, we get sick, tragedy strikes. It’s not just the negative events of life that can deplete us. It can be the positive events, too, like weddings or babies or moving into a new house. Right, Amanda? There’s my daughter-in-law, who just did that last weekend. We get stressed and overwhelmed with all the demands of life, and we can hit bottom.

And the woman of Sidon learned some lessons from Elijah about bottom-of-the-barrel living. By the time he met her, he was accustomed to living with very little.

Elijah was a prophet of God during a time of wide and unprecedented evil and godlessness in his society. The Bible tells us that King Ahab, the reigning king at that time, did more evil in the sight of God than any of the kings who came before him.

Not only that, to add insult to injury, he married Jezebel and followed her into Baal worship and led the entire nation of Israel to worship Baal. Now, the Semitic word for Baal literally means “lord” or “master.” And Baal was the god who was supposedly responsible for sending the rain, particularly when he slept with the goddess, Ashterah—or Asherah—the goddess of earth and fertility.

Baal worship was essentially worship of nature and worship of sex. It was believed that humans could help Baal out by participating in orgies and in sex with sacred prostitutes and through magic and through rituals and through human sacrifices—in particularly, killing babies.

Worship of sex, promiscuity, worship of nature, slaughter of babies . . . things that we’re not all that unfamiliar with in our culture as well. Elijah confronted King Ahab about his sin, and he pronounced that judgment would come in the form of a drought.

The Lord God, the true God—He would withhold the rain. [Elijah:] “It doesn’t matter what you do—it doesn’t matter how much you cry out to Baal—God is the God of the rain, and He is going to withhold it.”

Then Elijah hid himself beside a brook in the mountains, and he survived on water from that brook and on the scraps of bread and meat that the ravens dropped off every morning and evening.

Queen Jezebel went crazy! She started a manhunt for Elijah, she put a bounty on his head, and then she proceeded to kill every prophet of the Lord she could find. And this went on and on and on for quite a long time.

Then the brook dried up, and that’s how Elijah ended up on the widow’s doorstep. By that time, he was accustomed to living at the bottom of the barrel. His life demonstrates for us that the first thing you need to make it through tough times is the right perspective.

Perspective is often the very first thing that we lose when we face difficult situations . . . like that woman of Sidon. There she was, she was gathering sticks—feeling very sorry for herself. She was past the point of desperation, ready to die.

Her perspective on the drought and on the economic crash and on the dire situation was markedly different than Elijah’s perspective on it. Perspective is the way that you see something, the way you view life—your point of view. It’s your frame of reference.

Putting something into proper perspective means that you recognize its true importance in the grand scheme of things. I want you to notice the difference between the widow’s perspective and Elijah’s perspective.

Take a look at 1 Kings 17:12, and note her words. She says to Elijah: “As the LORD your God lives . . .” This suggests that she must have recognized that Elijah was the prophet from Israel (perhaps by what he was wearing), but Yahweh, the LORD, was not her God. It was “the LORD, your God.” This was Elijah’s God.

This was not the woman’s god. She did not know Yahweh God; she was just using the name of Elijah’s God to swear that she was telling the truth and to swear that her life was really bad and she was in a bad situation, and she didn’t have anything much to give him.

Elijah, on the other hand, referred to the Lord (in verse 14) as “the LORD, the God of Israel,” and (in verse 21) as, “O, LORD my God!” He had a personal relationship with the Lord. He knew God, and he was confident that God would provide—as He had promised.

The widow was familiar with the name of the LORD—capital L-O-R-D in our English Bibles—“Jehovah, Yahweh, the Great I AM,” but she didn’t really know Him. She didn’t know the I AM. This great name—the LORD—is the memorial name He revealed to Moses from the burning bush. The name “I AM.”

“I AM” God! “I AM!” Hosea calls it His memorial name, His name of remembrance: I AM. "This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Ex. 3:15). The temptation when we encounter difficulty is to forget God.

We fail to remember Him. We forget Him, or at least we forget who He really is. We treat Him like a vending machine. Maybe we put our “dollar of prayer” into the “prayer working” machine, and we press the button to get what we want, and then we get upset and kick it. We give up on God when He doesn’t give us, doesn’t dispense, exactly what we ask for.

We become all consumed with the difficulty. “The problem” occupies all of our time and all our thoughts and emotions. It is all that we see. But when we have a proper perspective on difficulties, God is in the forefront and the problem is in the shadow. He is all that we see.

During hard times, we need to remember God. We need to remember that He is, we need to remember who He is, and we need to remember that we are His. We need to call out that remembrance of His faithfulness to us and to believers throughout all generations.

Several years ago, my mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I clearly remember a phone conversation I had with her. I was concerned. I was worried. I was fraught with anxiety about it. And my mum told me, “Mary, the Lord brought me through the war. He was faithful when I was in that bomb shelter.”

“He was faithful when, as a teenage girl, I was running across that field and that bomber was using me for target practice. He was faithful when I was a refugee. He was faithful when we didn’t have food to eat, and I was starving. He was faithful when we fled Communism.”

“He was faithful when we immigrated to Canada—didn’t know the language, didn’t have a penny to rub together, didn’t know how we were going to meet our next meal or feed our children. He was faithful! And I know He’s going to be faithful in this. I’m not going to start doubting His faithfulness to me.”

I think of a couple that we know, Chris and Serenity Weems. They had trouble conceiving children, and they finally were blessed with one child. And then, they had trouble conceiving again and struggled with infertility.

Then she got pregnant and, at her routine ultrasound, they found out that the child she was carrying had a severe chromosomal disorder. He was, what she describes as, “scrambled”—inside and out.

There were cysts in his brain; his cerebellum was sucked into his spinal cord; he had a heart defect, severe spina bifida, a misshapen head, club foot . . . the list went on and on. She was pressed to terminate the pregnancy.

Nine out of ten pregnancies are terminated with children like this—not much chance of survival. (She blogged about it on, if some of you are going through a similar situation.)

They chose to walk through the pregnancy and to love the little child and to pray for healing. In an email they sent us, they said, “I do not know whether God will heal him in this lifetime or in the next, but I know that God is faithful!”

They called their little boy Samuel when he was born. He lived for ten minutes. They held him, and then they held him as his life slipped away into eternity, and they held his body for hours after that.

But you know what? They had such a life-giving perspective on who God is and His power and His love and His kindness—and that God is good!

My little son Matthew—Amanda’s husband—when he was about five years old we were driving along in the car and all of the sudden he pipes up with this zinger, and he says, “Heaven’s gonna be great!”

And I said, “Oh, really? Why is heaven gonna be great? Why do you think heaven is going to be so great?” And, with all of the wisdom of a little five-year-old, he pulled himself together and he said, “Well, all the forgetting’s going to come out of my head and all the remembering’s going to go in.” [laughter]

Now, I don’t know what he was concerned about forgetting at five years old . . . maybe to put away his toys, or he couldn’t remember how to spell some words or something—I don’t know. But I laughed, and then the more I chewed on that, I thought, How profound is that?

Because that’s the problem we have here: We forget God.

I think of that story, a great C. S. Lewis story, The Silver Chair, where Puddleglum and the kids go into the underworld, and the Queen of the Underworld is throwing incense onto the fire and she’s playing her mandolin—thrum, thrum, thrum—and she’s lulling to forget Narnia and to forget Aslan, and to be so consumed with “this world is all there is.”

Until Puddleglum bravely sticks his foot into the fire and breaks her spell. But that’s what it’s like living in this world! It’s like we get lulled into this forgetting state, where we forget God—and we forget who He is, and we forget that He is, and we forget that we are His, and we forget that He is the Great I AM!

We forget that He is the eternal and self-sustaining and self-determining and ever-faithful and all-powerful sovereign God who loves me and is in an everlasting covenant relationship with me. He’s the Creator of heaven and earth, the God who throws the stars into space. He marks off the heavens with the breadth of His hands, makes the cloud His garment, commands the morning, measures the waters in His cup, holds the dust of the earth in His basket, weighs the mountains on His scale—the Creator of heavens and earth, before whose very voice the mountains tremble and melt . . . and that is my God! (applause)

He is the One whose ways are higher than mine. He’s the One who can make sense of it all when I can’t. He’s the One who sees; He’s the One who knows. He’s the One who has promised, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned—and the flame shall not consume you—for I AM the LORD your God!” (applause)

In verse 13, Elijah says to the woman, “Don’t be afraid.” In those tough times, we become afraid, don’t we? Elijah knew what it was to fear. The most powerful people in the country were trying to kill him. But he chose to remember God; he chose to trust the One whose perfect love casts out all fear.

The second mindset the woman needed, to thrive at her bottom-of-the-barrel time, was the right priorities.

And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son" (v. 13).

This woman could have looked at him and said, “Really? Are you crazy?” He said, “First—first—take care of my needs, and then take care of your needs, and I assure you God will provide and there will be enough.”

Well, “first” is the most important stuff that you need to do. And the woman had a me-first attitude: my problems, my pain, my unfulfilled needs, my expectations. But in order to thrive at the bottom, you need to put first things first.

Jesus once reprimanded a disciple who was in a difficult situation for having the wrong priorities. He said, “Let the dead bury their dead; you don’t need to go do that. You don’t need to take care of that. You need to take care of your soul.” (Matthew 8:21 is that story.)

This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: "I am the first" (Isa. 44:6 NIV).

And in order to thrive in difficult desert times, we need to put God first. 

Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'" This is the [say it with me!] the first and greatest commandment" (Matt. 22:37–38 NIV). 

We need to spend time with the Lord first.

“But seek [let me hear it, ladies!] first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33 NIV).

We need to pray first. “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions [requests], prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people [everyone]” (1 Tim. 2:1 NIV).

We need to repent first. “Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of [your] cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean” (Matt. 23:26 NIV). So many of us are waiting for that other person to repent first, or to apologize first, or to take care of the way they wounded us first.

Well, guess what, girls? God is asking you to be the first to the cross! Forgive first. “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye” (Matt. 7:4–5 NIV).

Seek reconciliation first. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23–24 NIV).

Check your attitude first. “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17 NIV).

Do the things that you did at first: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first” (Rev. 2:4–5 NIV).

We get so distracted and get into this me-first mode instead of putting first things first. For the widow, there were a few things that she needed to take care of; she had some obedience issues. The Lord had commanded her to feed. She knew that she had to give this guy some food.

You need to check your obedience issues. There are many of you in this room who are procrastinating. You know what it is that God is asking you to do, and you’re putting it off and putting it off and putting it off.

Second, she needed to open her hand and let go of what she was hanging onto, and we need to do that as well. We need to open up our hands and let go of what we are holding onto so tightly . . . our expectations or our demands or all of that old stuff—all that old baggage that’s weighing us down.

Third, she needed to give—and that must have been extremely difficult for her, to give out of her deep poverty, to think of someone else, to turn her eyes outward instead of just being focused on her own needs.

To give involves letting go: letting go of self-protection, letting go of self-interest. The Bible calls it “dying to self.” She had to look after Elijah first. She could not receive from the Lord until she had given the little that she had left.

So what about you ladies? What is it?

  • What issue of obedience is God calling you to that you need to take care of?
  • What is it that you need to let go of?
  • What demands and expectations that you are holding onto so tightly, wrapped up in yourself, that you’re just spinning your wheels and can’t get anywhere with the Lord?
  • What is it that God is asking you to give?
  • How is He asking you to die to self?

Maybe it’s humbling yourself and asking for forgiveness. Maybe it’s being the first to ask for reconciliation with someone who has hurt you, wounded you.

The Lord wants us to let go of that me-first attitude. In order to thrive in life, ladies, in desert times, we need to have the right perspective. We need to have the right priorities—putting first things first. And we also need to have perseverance.

Why should we persevere? Elijah told the woman, “Do not fear, because God is going to take care of you. God will take care of you.”

“The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah (1 Kings 17:14–16).

We need to persevere because, in God’s economy, a little is enough. The widow’s little bit of flour and little bit of oil was enough. God gave her enough for that day. The portion of manna that the children of Israel gathered every morning was enough. It was enough to feed them for that day.

They couldn’t collect more and save it—the saved-up portion would go bad. God just had them have enough—not tons, just enough. There was another widow whose oil was enough to fill all the jars of oil in the whole town.

Think about that little boy’s lunch. There was enough to feed all the masses. Or Gideon’s little band of warriors that was enough to defeat the massive forces. And David’s little teeny rock that was enough to take down that giant.

You know what? Just a little bit of light is enough to kick a hole in the darkness. God gives you enough for this day, and His “little” is enough for you! I love the imagery here. The flour reminds us of the Bread of the Presence of the Lord that sat on the table in the tabernacle. It reminds us of the bread of Christ’s body that was broken for us and His abiding presence.

The oil, which in the Bible represents gladness and joy and healing and the Spirit of God . . . and God gave it to her every day, in an adequate portion for that day. God gives you enough for each day and each demand, and each trial and each circumstance, and each time you were stretched beyond what you think you can bear, His little is enough. If you have Jesus, you will always have enough. (applause) She needed to persevere, because gold is refined in the crucible.

The name of the town is Zarephath, and the name Zarephath means “refining.” There were probably some refineries there; there’s a smelting shop. And you know how they refine gold? They heat it up. They get it real, real hot—and then hotter than that, even—and hot, hot, hot.

And then what happens in that process of the gold being heated is all the impurities rise to the surface—called slag. Good name for it, don’t you think? And sometimes that’s what God wants to do in our life, in those desert times and in those hard times and in those times of stretching and in those times of inadequacy.

It’s like He puts us into the furnace and things heat up, and then they heat up a little bit more, and then you see the light at the end of the tunnel and you run toward it—and it’s another big train that hits you smack in the eyes! And life heats up even more and more.

You’re being squeezed! You’re being burned! But guess what? All that slag and garbage is rising to the surface (and boy, does it rise to the surface!—does it not?) so that we can see it and bring it to the cross, and Jesus can take care of it . . . and we can grow and be refined.

Gold is refined in the crucible. Coal needs to be squeezed to make diamonds. That irritant in the sand of the clamshell is what makes the pearl, and the pressing of the olives is what results in the purest oil. We need to persevere, because the rains will come.

The rains will come. Why? Because I AM is faithful. He is faithful! “I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land a spring of water” (Isa. 41:18).

I love the imagery that the psalmist uses when he talks about life, and he says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca" (Ps. 84:5–6) . . . which is a valley of sin, a valley of dryness, a valley—really—of walking through life. You’re on the highway to Zion; your eyes are on the Lord, on seeing Him, and on seeing what’s really true and good and right and eternal—but you’re going through this valley, the Valley of Baca.

But as the righteous go through the Valley of Baca, it becomes, “a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; [until] each one appears before God in Zion” (Ps. 84:6–7). Do I hear an “amen"?

Have you found God to be faithful? Have you found in your life that, you might be in a desert place, but there was a pool back there—and the rains will come. And there will be another one! And the Lord will lead you into times of refreshing of your spirit and rest.

And then you’re going to be on that journey again, and then He will come—and life will be tough—but then there will be another pool of strength. And God takes us on this journey down the highway of Zion, through the Valley of Baca, from strength to strength, from pool to pool, until we see Him. Because ultimately, that is when the rains will come.

There will be a time—and this is the right perspective—there will be a time when there is no more mourning, no more tears, no more sadness, no more hunger, no more thirst. And how do I know that? Because God says so! (applause)

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price (Rev. 22:17).

And now, ladies, if you would all stand, I want to pray for you. Just hold your hands out. I just want to pray God’s blessing and refreshment on you. You’ve come here; you’ve traveled a long way. You might be tired—yawning—having a hard time concentrating. You’ve carried all sorts of burdens. Right now, the Lord just wants you to let go. So if you can, just do that—put your hands down, let them go, and then put your hands up. And I’m going to pray for you to receive from the Lord right now, and then we’re going to go into worship.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your provision. Thank You for the bread of Your presence. Thank You for the oil of Your Spirit—the oil of joy, the oil of gladness that You pour out without cost.

Thank You, that even as we’re walking through this earth and through the Valley of Baca, You will take us from strength to strength—from pool to pool—that Your “little” is enough and that You always give us enough.

I pray for these women who do not think that they can face tomorrow. Would You give them a double portion today, that they may know that they have enough for today, and they have enough for tomorrow, too.

And Lord, may we turn to You always in our need, and may we never, ever forget that You are the I AM—who is, and who is for us, and who is our God! The Lord my God!

Ladies, say it: The Lord my God! And if you don’t have that perspective, if you don’t know the Lord as your God, I suggest you go back to the prayer room today and say, “I don’t know Him as my God; I don’t know Him that way. I want to know Him that way.”

He wants to meet with you tonight, so that before you go to sleep you can say, “The Lord is my God!”

Heavenly Father, I just pray for times of refreshing. I pray as these women open up to receive—in their emptiness and their neediness and those who will come to the end of themselves—and that You will fill them, because of Your great mercy and because of Your great love, because of what Jesus did on the cross to make it all possible.

I thank You, and I praise You that You are always enough! Amen.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.