There is nothing quite as discouraging on a well trip than packing up and leaving a village after drilling two dry holes, with a promise to be back next season to try again. After spending several days drilling in the heat, trying to give a village clean water all you want is to leave them with a well. When you end up with no well, it is discouraging, frustrating and leaves you with lots of questions.
I memorized the verse about giving thanks in all things many years ago, but sometimes it is hard to understand why we should give thanks in certain situations. What is there to be thankful for when you drill two dry holes and leave a village without clean water? Wouldn’t it be better for the village and bring God more glory if we hit water every time we drilled?
God opened my eyes to something on a recent well trip. The first village we went to was visited in January when a pervious team drilled two dry holes. When we showed up a couple weeks ago the local people started talking about us “white people”. They talked about how we (the previous team) showed up and prayed for God to bring water, but then also took time to pray and thank God even when we didn’t find water. Not only that, but now we were back. This people group is one of the strongest Muslim groups in Burkina and they were heard saying, “These people have a better way to Paradise” and they have also been asking the pastor in that area questions about this better way to Paradise. It seems God is receiving more glory because two dry holes were drilled before we found water on the third attempt than He would have received if we hit water the first time we drilled.
The third village we drilled in had three previous dry holes. When the couple we were working with from our local church showed up, the village chief came and asked about sacrificing animals to the spirits so we could find water. They told him that we were not going to sacrifice any animals, to which he said was the reason no water was found the first three attempts. The couple proceeded to tell him again that we were not going to sacrifice animals and that if God wanted us to find water, we would. At this point, I must admit that as I prayed for water, I was also praying for God to help my unbelief. I know pretty much nothing about how to go about finding the best location to drill for water, but I trust the guys we work with and I knew from what they were saying that it was very unlikely we would find water in this area. However, we prayed and asked God to give us water…and He did! Later that same day, we once again hit water. God made it very clear to us that He is the one who gave us that water. And, once again, I was shown that God received and will continue to receive more glory because it took 4 attempts to get water than if they had found water on the first try. I cannot wait to hear about what God does in this village because of this miracle well.
I tell you these two stories to say I now completely understand why I should give thanks for dry holes. It may be frustrating and not make any since at the time, but God has used and will continue to use dry holes to bring Himself glory.
Last week I went out to help drill in another village. When we arrived, I learned that there had already been two attempts at drilling a well. As I prayed we would find water, I also prayed that God would do whatever would bring Him the most glory, whatever would magnify Him the most, whatever would promote Him and make Him big. Initially, we found water, but it ended up not being enough for a well. We attempted a fourth hole in this village and again found no water. Though this is very frustrating and discouraging, I am trusting that God knows what He is doing and that He will ultimately use these dry holes to bring Him glory.
This has been a good reminder for me that even when we don’t understand what God is doing or why He chooses to do things the way He does, that I should always choose to give thanks. I may not understand what is going on, but God has reasons for why He chooses to do things the way He does and I need to trust Him.