“Because of Your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold Your manna from their mouths, and You gave them water for their thirst.” Nehemiah 9:19-20
When I think of a desert, I think of a dusty, dry wasteland.
It stretches for miles.
My desert is a place of pain – a place I wait for rain. It’s thirsty in the desert.
Sometimes the wait is long.
Sometimes I don’t see God at all.
I wait for relief – I want out of the desert.
God didn’t abandon the Israelites in the desert, even though they complained, even though they doubted. God Himself called them arrogant and “stiff-necked”.
The Israelites, God’s chosen people, didn’t obey His commands. They refused to listen and forgot the miracles. They even made an idol and appointed a new leader to take them back to Egypt.
In spite of everything, God never abandoned them.
Like the Israelites, when I forget God and try to manage on my own, the desert:
- Steals my joy
- Dominates my thoughts
- Consumes my life
A small blunder turns into an emergency, a relationship fracture, a financial strain.
Sometimes I’m in the desert because of choices I’ve made.
At times, I believe I deserve the desert – it’s punishment.
The desert can surprise me – a sandstorm coming from nowhere.
When I don’t play nice or follow the rules, God’s response is compassionate and loving. His love doesn’t depend on my performance or how well I keep His commands.
He loves me when I’m arrogant, stiff-necked and rebellious.
He loves me when I clench my fist and go my own way.
He loves me when I can’t see or feel His presence.