“The Wilderness” “The desert” “Tough times” “Trials”
Different people call them by different terms. And to one a tough time may not seem so tough to someone else. But everyone goes through them and they look differently to everyone.
Why do they happen? If you’re like me, you’ve said the words, “Why, God, why?” At times, there’s no clear answer. Sometimes, it’s trouble of our own making. We get ourselves into terrible messes. At other times, it seems so random. But what if some of the time, it was God’s design?
Does that sound far-fetched? What if the “desert” is the only place where God can get my (or your) attention? What if He led us into the wilderness for a purpose? Is that possible?
We only need to look at Scripture to see when God led his faithful ones into the wilderness, and in the process or as a result, experienced God’s closeness like never before. Moses, the murderer, fleeing for his life. Abraham packing up and leaving for the middle of nowhere. David hiding in caves. Elijah on the run. Even Jesus was led to the wilderness. Each time, they encountered God or experienced His Presence in ways like never before.
There’s some beautiful Scripture in Hosea of God promising His unfaithful, chosen nation of Israel would be led into the wilderness, but it would be for a purpose:
“But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. (Hosea 2:14-15 NLT)
Sometimes the only place we can hear God’s voice is in the barren wilderness, when we’re seemingly abandoned and all alone. But He promises restoration and transformation. The valley… the desert… the tough times… the trials… will be a gateway… a doorway to HOPE! It’s in the desert that the restoration comes. It’s in the wilderness that the healing comes. It’s in the tests that you’re given a testimony!
Right now, I’m seemingly in limbo. Maybe you are, too. It’s a kind of an in-between, transitional time in my life. At times, it seems lush and fruitful, so to speak. At other times, it’s barren and dry. It’s a wilderness of sorts. And through it all, God seems so close, so intimate, and He speaks so tenderly.
As David knew oh-so-well,
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. (Psalm 23:4, NLT)
He walks through our darkest times with us. He doesn’t leave us there. He leads us through, to come out on the other side victorious!