Sometimes we go through tough times that last a long time – weeks, months maybe even years. Such times include deep loneliness after a relationship break up; illness that takes over life for a while; job loss and a period of unemployment; death of a loved one and the journey of grief; a difficult person or situation at work, school or home that requires constant energy or causes anxiety; a season of sleep deprivation because of the demands of young children and many more.
We might calls these times desert experiences. We’re away from normal life with its every day joys and pleasures. This “thing” has removed us from our normal routine and we struggle through. Sometimes, we discover that this tough thing will stay with us for life. We may adjust to the point where we no longer see it as life in the desert.
Other times, this tough time passes. We return to a somewhat normal life. We get back to doing what used to do. If we experience such a mercy, we need to ensure we don’t waste our suffering. We must not forget the lessons learned during those wanderings.
I know that in my life, tough times have taught me to appreciate ordinary days. I craved stopping at a coffee shop for a coffee; driving to work; attending a board meeting; walking down a mall. These are not the most exciting adventures. Yet they beat life in the desert place.
The ancient Israelites escaped slavery in Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. It would take a few weeks to walk there. Yet it took them 40 years. Why? God led them to wander in the wilderness to deal with their multiple issues. They needed testing and sifting. They needed wilderness experience so they could treasure ordinary life. Many rejected God’s teaching and died in the wilderness. A few embraced that time as best they could until they came to the edge of the Promised Land.
Moses, their leader, gave some final words to them before they entered the land because he would not make it. He says this in Deuteronomy 1:19 - “Then we set out from Horeb and went through all that great and terrifying wilderness that you saw..” Did you notice how he described the wilderness? He could have just said, “we set out from Horeb and went through the wilderness.” Instead he says “that great and terrifying wilderness that you saw.” He reminds them of their wilderness wandering and suffering. He emphasizes that this part of their history must not be forgotten. It could serve as a continual reminder of the possible hardships in life and the blessings of ordinary life. If they learned their sufferings of yesterday, it could give them healthy perspective for life today.
So if you’re in some wilderness today, ask the Lord for His Strength, Guidance and Provision to go through this day. Repeat every day until He brings you through it or gives you grace to find peace in it. If you’re not in a wilderness today thank God for His grace. Review what He’s taught you through such times. Share that with those who need to hear it when you have opportunity.
“Thank you God that You’re with us in times of wilderness wanderings and bountiful harvest. Help us to not miss or forget what You teach us through tough times. Give strength for those in some wilderness today to keep going by Your grace.”