By: Tiffany Thibault
I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought. – Hosea 13:5
I have lived in the desert off and on for many years. I have learned that life in the desert offers some guarantees. Summers will be VERY hot. Dust will become a constant battle. My skin will be dry and my car battery will need to be replaced every 3-ish years. Desert life is hard on everyone and everything.
For many years, I lived on the edge of the city; my neighborhood edged by a nature preserve for desert tortoises. Walking trails abounded back in this desert area. In the winter months, I would take my dog for walks out there. I rarely saw another person. I loved the solitude, the quiet from the hectic city down the hill. I loved to watch the desert go through its winter and spring season.
But by the time the temps warmed up it became unbearable to walk out there, with the days warming into the triple digits. Through the long summer months, I impatiently waited for the temperatures to cool so I could once again walk in the wilderness.
On many of my walks on the trails through the cactus and shrub brush, though the places seemed uninhabitable, there were tiny signs of life. Occasionally I would see rabbits, chipmunks, lizards, and birds. I walked with care, as I also knew that rattlesnakes lived out there. At night we sometimes even heard coyotes howling, or saw bats swooping around.
As I lived my days in the desert, I would often think about the Israelites and their journey through the wilderness. In our lives of walking with the Lord, we too sometimes feel as though we are walking through wilderness. There will be times when it’s hard to read the Bible, to trust that God truly means what He says. There will be times when we long for rain, for something to quench our spiritual thirst.
The Israelites left Egypt, the land where they had lived as slaves for many many years. In delivering them from slavery, God led them to the wilderness and had them wander around there for 40 years. The days were long, the summers hot, the winters cold. They complained and longed for the sweet fruit and meat that they remembered from Egypt.
It was there in the wilderness, though that God provided for them. Every single day, he delivered fresh food. He guided them as to where to go next and He protected them. It was there in the desert that they received their first written word from God.
They often focused on the dirt, the heat, the cold, the inconveniences of living the hard life that wilderness living brings, and when they took their eyes off of God and focused on their woes, life grew even harder, and God seemed more distant.
Similarly, when we are going through really hard times, it seems like we are all alone, struggling through the difficulties. It feels as though God is not even there, or doesn’t even care.
It is in the times of walking through the wilderness that we must recognize God is caring for us. He says this in Hosea: “I cared for you in the wilderness, In the land of drought.” In the midst of our lack or our discomfort during those times, we must intentionally look for the ways He is caring for us through it.
We must recognize that the wilderness is imperative for our faith, our reliance upon God. Jesus knew how hard we struggle and he gave us this promise: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The lessons that we learn in the wilderness are the very ones God will use to grow our faith, give power to our testimony, and draw us closer to Him. If we lived every day in a beautiful greenhouse, we would never learn to be strong against the heat, the storms, or the attack of pests. Our faith is like this. We need to be thirsty enough to need the refreshing of God’s Word. We need to be hungry enough to desire God’s word. We need to be tired enough of our wandering, to get back on track with the Lord.
Once the Israelites had learned the lessons that God had for them, they were then strong enough to enter the Promised Land. The things they learned equipped them to go and do battle to take the land for their families.
So if you are wandering in the wilderness right now, let the promise of this verse encourage you: “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9
Remember that God is caring for you through every single moment of this journey.