“He (God) turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground…He (God) turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.”- Psalm 107:33, 35
The deserts of our soul. Think back on a time, maybe now, maybe years ago, in which you felt like you were being dried up from the inside out. Oftentimes, these seasons come right after a time in which springs were overflowing. Suddenly, without warning, we are thrown into the wilderness, and if we are not careful, we are left to wonder who is responsible for the whole thing. We are left crying out, “Why me? Why now?” Why does the pain so often follow the joy?
“And when He (Jesus) came up out of the water, immediately He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.’”-Mark 1:10-11
Children love receiving praise from their fathers. In this moment, Jesus was being given the reassurance and the affirmation that God Almighty was well pleased with Him. The Spirit descended down from heaven onto Jesus, like a dove, symbolizing peace, and then,
“The Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness.” (verse 12)
Wait, what? After such overflowing, bursting joy, the Spirit immediately drives Jesus out into the desert? A place where, we find out in further verses, Jesus is tempted for forty days? Seems kind of cruel. What kind of God brings refreshment only to bring hardship?
It is much, much easier to focus on the ways that we are being tested and tried instead of focusing on the provision surrounding us. And, I confess, there have been seasons of life where I have totally missed the goodness of God in these passages. Yet, if we look closely, we can fix our eyes on the beauty of it all: Jesus did not go alone. God provided His very Spirit for the journey to come. And, if we believe that because of what Jesus did on the cross, His life breathes and lives within us, then we can know and trust that this same truth applies to us. God never, ever leaves us in desert alone. Beyond that, God never sends us out into the desert unless He knows that glory awaits. The very nature of the word, desert, or wilderness, is based on the word ‘wildness’, which literally means, “that which is not controlled by people”. In a world in which control is encouraged and people spend their days, their lives, attempting to control the circumstances and details around them, do we not think there is value in stepping out into the places in which control is void? It is in those wilderness days that we are forced to look at the One controlling it all and remind ourselves, and others, that we may not understand but we know the One who does. Instead of focusing on the pain, let’s fix our eyes on the provision. The natural reaction in difficult times is to look at the difficulty. God gives us a way to, instead, look at His ability in light of the difficulty. His abilities in light of our disabilities. Furthermore, we can take heart, knowing that the same God that turns rivers into deserts also turns deserts into springs of water overflowing. It all serves purpose. Herein lies the biggest challenge of all: to praise Him for both the overflowing streams and the parched land; to literally thank Him for the deserts and wilderness times of our lives, and to trust Him that they are His best. Impossible, until we remember that just as His Spirit descended on Jesus and gave Him the peace and power of God; so He has given us that same, powerful, holy offer. And, He not only goes with us, He goes before and behind us. In all places, at all times, in all things. Only God.
I have jumped from desert to springs to wilderness to rivers in this journey we are on. This week, I have been in the desert, desperately attempting to see Him in the barren lands. Yet, I know that He is building my faith muscles all the more as I look to Him instead of looking at the circumstances surrounding me or the emotions within me. I know that I will not be here forever, and even if it is fleeting, those moments of relief and refreshment come even in the midst of the hard.
Friends, we must fight to see the relief and the refreshment. We must trust the God of the deserts just as much as we trust the God of the springs of water, knowing that He is the same in all things. We must call on the community around us to speak truth into our lives whenever we doubt those things. We must read the living and active pages of God’s word and breathe healing life into our hearts, minds, souls, and beings. He is faithful in all things.
“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”- Psalm 30:5b (thanks, Sarah, for sharing with me last night!)