Alone in the desert

The Desert Doesn't Have To Be Dry

Life can be challenging, and seasons may be dry, or at least feel so, but that doesn't mean it has to be if we can see God in it.
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Don't let seasons of change or constant mundane routine get the best of you and your spirit. Sure there are seasons that aren't as exciting as others or are full of more questions than answers, but that doesn't mean God isn't present and working. The song "Waymaker" has the lyrics "You never stop working... you never stop working" and it's true. He is constantly working in our best interest and His plan and we have to learn to seek that, rest in those promises, and make the most of each season, rather than long for the next one or live in the future of our minds.

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School changed, plans cancelled, summers switched, lives different, we can probably all agree this season of life has not been as expected. The normal that we once knew and were familiar with has changed. I think that sometimes during a season that changes our plans and routines completely, it is easy to (feel like you are in a desert) relate to being in a desert.

While I have lived my whole life in an actual desert (Arizona), the desert I am referring to is much more figurative than literal. The desert this season might have brought many of us into is more of a mental desert. A place where it can be easier to see only miles and miles of lifeless dirt and dryness. When things in our life are unexpectedly turned on their head, whether it be losing a job, being stuck at home, a family member getting sick, or a loss of all motivation, it is understandably hard to see the positive in our situations.

Let me clarify that pain in this world is real. And the trials that we experience can be truly heartbreaking. Suffering IS real. But the question I want to raise to not only myself but also to you, is why does this season have to be dry? For example, I was supposed to be in Zambia this entire summer spreading the Gospel message to those who never have heard of the name of Jesus. Preaching and praying for the lost alongside five teams of other students and Christians. For the first time in my life I was going to be in a place far from home, doing something I knew was what God had called me to. But then our five teams got cancelled. One after the other I prayed the next team would be able to go. Why God? Why did you allow us to prepare months before and raise thousands of dollars to go on this journey to spread your name across the nations, only to have it be cancelled and to be stuck back in this desert? I can honestly say I was very confused and upset at God.

But what if God wanted something else for me and the other people who were supposed to be in Zambia this summer? What if he is always in control and always is good. That is something easy to believe when our lives are going how we want them to. It gets harder to believe God is in control and good when there are cancelled plans, injustice, and sickness all around us. But do those things negate God’s goodness? Of course not! I believe it shows the brokenness of our world and should draw us closer to a good and perfect God who will one day restore that brokenness for all those who believe in him.

I am reminded of the goodness of God in Psalm 118, “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place.  The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies” (Psalm 118: 5-7 NIV). What if in that desert we are in, God never left our side? What if he is with us in the desert, and he plans to lead us out of it. I am reminded all the time of Daniel three and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Even when they are about to be thrown into the fiery furnace to be killed for not bowing down to the Kings statue, they know God is with them, ”  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3: 16-18).

I cannot think of a drier and more dangerous place than that furnace in Daniel three. Yet, they still knew the Lord is good, in control, and that he would deliver them. Maybe you feel like you have been thrown into your own furnace this season. Maybe you feel your life as you know it has burned to the ground and you are left to try and pick up the ashes.

But what if I can encourage you that just because your old normal is gone, does not mean God cannot lead you to a better future. The well-known scripture in Romans eight shares, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). If you have a relationship with Christ, you can cling to the promise that God is working. Even in the desert there is LIVING WATER in the name of Jesus. This desert you may find yourself in this season does NOT have to be dry! Because we know that Christ is with us no matter when or where we fall. May our prayer today be that he would lead, and we would follow as he shows us through the desert into the promised land in our own lives.