I’m writing to you today from the comfort of my home…at least that is where I am in the physical sense. However, spiritually and emotionally speaking, I am absolutely in a desert phase of life. Life isn’t just uncomfortable… it’s downright tough. There is strife, mixed with loneliness, uncertainty and a good dose of anxiety to make it feel almost hopeless at times! Can you relate? Maybe your “recipe” is slightly different than mine, but the outcome or experience is similar! That feeling of endless wandering through life accompanied by hopelessness. And if you’re really like me, you might become childlike and start whining about how unfair life is (or how much longer will this last, or why is this happening to me???)
It’s in times like this that our faith is actually transformed into a verb. It becomes action based…meaning faith isn’t something we have as much as it’s something we exhibit. And I’m honest, I don’t know how people get through desert experiences without faith in God. Every time I’ve found myself walking through a desert, its helped me to know that everything in my life is ordained by an all knowing and all loving God. He causes or allows everything. He’s granted me the freedom to choose my path and as such, the consequences belong to me. I can’t blame Him for choices I’ve made. And so even though He allows some circumstances to happen in my life that causes me anguish and pain, He also ensures I can withstand and find my way through. I firmly believe it. Read Luke 22;31-32 He prays that our faith will not fail while we are being tested. Did you notice He doesn’t pray for the testing to be minimized or over quickly? He prays our faith will not fail! This is so important to understand in our darker moments…because if our faith remains strong, we will remember He loves us and will work all things for good in our lives. When our faith is strong, we are reminded that He created us for a purpose and His plan for us is a GOOD one!
So if that is true, then even this experience will be used for good. Wait…what?? How is this bleak desert experience ever going to be used for good? Because this is when God becomes a real Dad and shows us just how much He loves us. Come with me to the Old Testament book of Exodus where the Israelites are found wandering the desert for 40 years (YIKES!) There is so much to be said and learned from studying the interactions between God and His people while they were in the desert. Here are a couple of key takeaways regarding how God used this for good.
- He used this time to show the Israelites that He would always provide for them. From water out of a rock to daily manna from heaven to even a flock of quail…He always provided what they needed as they needed it. The lesson? What we want is not the same as what we need and sometimes the desert experience is used to reveal that we’ve been treating “needs” and “wants” as equal when they are not in the same category.
- He used this time to reveal false gods. This is really a term to be used for anything we hold in higher regard to God himself. The Israelites made a golden calf. In today’s world, I think the “selfie” best describes our most common false god. When we are more self-reliant than God reliant, we are usually headed into trouble of some sort. Inside our desert experience, we begin to see where we are relying on people or things more than on the God who created us. This is a call to action to get our alignment correct!
- He used this time to show them He would protect them from their enemies. The Red Sea parting and then swallowing up the Egyptians is just one example to remind all of us that God will never leave us and in fact will take vengeance on our behalf in His own unmistakable way.
- He used this time to show them that He is ever faithful and will always make good on His promises, despite our lack of faith and disobedience. Yes, their disobedience cost them time in the Promised Land and many of them never even made it. But remember, they chose to lose their faith and fear the giants. God still remained faithful to His promise to give them the land He promised them.
This is true for all of us. He has a promise for each of us that has been planted in our soul. These promises aren’t delivered on a silver platter! They are waiting for us on the other side of the desert. There are lessons to learn so that when we enter our own personal Promise Land, He will get the glory and praise.
Friends…above all else, maintain your faith as it will help you hold onto hope. Our desert experience has treasures in it and the tougher it is…well the bigger the promise. No doubt about it…our desert experiences shape and build our future. RISE UP!