“He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.” ~2 Corinthians 1:10
We view any hardships we encounter as unpleasant interruptions. Trials and tribulations are distractions that mess up our lives. It’s unfair when something bad happens to us. But Scripture paints things like this from the divine perspective of the Father. Paul says tough times come into our lives to teach us, to show us, not to rely on ourselves, but on God.
“This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” ~2 Corinthians 2:9
God’s people have always believed that if you want to hear the voice of God, you go to the desert. You are drawn to God in the desert. You’re brought closer to God in the desert. God is better able to mold you and shape you in the desert. Because in the desert, you can’t survive without God’s direct intervention. If doesn’t provide water, you die. If God doesn’t give you food, you die. If God doesn’t bless you with shade, you don’t survive. If you’re in the desert, you can’t live without God. And you realize it there more than at any other time in your life.
It’s hard in the desert. It’s tough. Hot. Dry. Barren. Very little sign of life anywhere. Surrounded by desolation. And most of the time you don’t know if you’re going to be able to take one more step.
Maybe you’re in the middle of a desert right now. Maybe. Are you? You feel isolated. Alone. Helpless. Something’s happened to get you in this place. A serious illness. A divorce. Somebody died. A job situation. Whatever it is, maybe you don’t know if you can even make it one more day.
I want you to know that this desert time is where our God shapes you. God trains you in the desert. He’s drawing you closer and causing you to depend more on him.
“I’m going to allure you. I will lead you into the desert and speak tenderly to you.” ~Hosea 2:14
Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, they spent 40 years in the desert. God gave them manna and quail from heaven and water from a rock. And it changed them into the people he wanted them to be. David spent time in the desert, running for his life, hiding in caves. God protected him and provided for him in the oasis at En Gedi. And it changed him into the greatest king Israel’s ever known. Elijah was driven to the desert where God caused an angel from heaven to give him food and then spoke to him personally in that small, still voice. And it shaped him into the Lord’s greatest prophet. When Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit pushed him into the desert where he was tempted and tortured by Satan and protected and provided for by God.
It took Jesus 40 days. It took Moses 40 years.
God’s promise in Christ is that everything is going to be made right. All will be well. He proved his promise in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus and in Jesus’ ascension to the place of ultimate power and authority at the right hand of God. Every single thing that’s wrong is being changed. And it’s all being made perfect to dwell forever in the presence of God.
So if things are not well with you today, it means it’s not over yet. It’s not done. And that’s good news! God is at work in you and through you. The Spirit says God will bring to completion that thing he’s started in you. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. Amen. Maybe while you’re in the desert.