“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” –C.S. Lewis
Sometimes the night feels endless. I pray, surrender, yet painful circumstances remain.
Life’s hardships and difficulties often stretch long and wide with no relief in sight – like a desert.
There’s someone I love who is wounded, hurt, bleeding. The wounds cause lashing out and harsh responses. It’s a difficult situation.
I wait, praying for change.
Relationship is impossible; loving them for now means distance.
I must step away and it causes deep sadness – I miss this person. I long for restoration.
I didn’t cause it, I can’t change it.
The relationship isn’t what God intends but until my loved one sees their need for healing, God waits with me in the desert of not yet.
I feel the empty space.
The stillness stretches before me and all I see is endless sand.
I’m in the desert – a place of vulnerability.
In difficulty and hardship, I am especially vulnerable to things I think will bring reprieve.
Truewestmagazine.com writes about thirsty desert travelers being poisoned at water holes. They write:
…”many travelers in the Old West faced the danger of drinking water from shallow surface pools in the desert.
Often those pioneers miscalculated their water supply and consumption rate.
Low on water, they may have followed a mislabeled map or accidentally stumbled upon an oasis or water hole in the desert. Water holes were sometimes contaminated by arsenic and the occasional source of unintentional poisoning for a few thirsty, careless or just unlucky travelers in the Old West.”
Desert travelers, low on water, follow a mislabeled map, leading to poisoned water – water they thought was drinkable and good. Maybe even an answer to prayer.
When I’m thirsty and in need of water, potential dangers seem worth the risk.
A mislabeled map leading me away from living water to poisoned pools might look like this:
• Drinking or eating to excess
• Shopping or gambling, incurring debt
• Illicit relationships
• Lashing out in anger, venting frustration and hurting someone
• Taking illegal or prescription drugs
• Working or exercising to excess
When I look to things other than God, I am in danger of being poisoned by shallow, surface pools.
I am in danger of ousting God and inviting in the garden snake.
Life is hitting hard, I can’t remember the last time I spent time with God.
I miscalculate my living water supply.
Depleted, I follow a mislabeled map and drink of things that poison my life.
The danger of the oasis is it often looks like something good – something harmless. It looks like the water I need.
How do I survive the desert?
• Get under cover – find shade or shelter
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1
Prayer, reading God’s Word and godly counsel/friends are some of the ways I find relief from the desert’s blistering heat. I take a chance, open up and allow people to speak into my life and love on me.
• Don’t drink from shallow pools
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13
I remember things that offer temporary relief are a lie and a trap – they never satisfy and leave me hungry for more. I seek the sustenance I need from God and His promises.I hold on and have faith God will make a way where there seems to be no way. Click To Tweet
• Stay Cool
Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off. But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Psalm 37:8-9
The desert is an uncomfortable place I don’t like to be – my patience can run short. I practice self care and trust God for answers. I hold my tongue and walk away rather than take my frustration out on others.
When I fail, I ask God and the people I snark at for forgiveness.
• Hunker down
The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him. Psalm 37:40
Hold on – weeping may stay for the night but joy comes in the morning.
By faith, I trust God is at work – even when I cannot see and the night lingers on.
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV
Deserts can be harsh and unrelenting but they can also be places of growth and beauty.
When I trust God to lead me through painful places, He never lets me down.
He provides what I need and makes a way where there appears to be no way – even in dry, dusty deserts.