<<barren region>>

The only route between Egypt and the Promised Land was through the “Vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions” (Deut 8:15). This was the Negev or desert area covering over 13,000 square km, about 55% of Israel’s land area. Even though it was an inhospitable place God miraculously sustained the 2 million or so Israelites in it for 40 years. The harsh conditions should have been an incentive to obey whatever God asked of them so they could get into the fertile productive area of the Promised Land of plenty. The actual journey through the desert could have been completed in a few days and not the 40 years it took because of their stubbornness and unbelief (Num 14:26-35). They looked to what was against them, not the Lord God who was for them, but they didn’t learn the lessons afforded to them in the wilderness – reliance on and obedience to God, and being grateful for His provision in spite of the surroundings.

Our pathway to the inheritance of what God has planned for us will also encompass unpleasant periods of trial and desert-like experiences. Consequently, sometimes our Christian walk is dry and where we no longer have the sense of God’s manifest presence and we feel like we have been abandoned or forsaken by Him, and maybe discouraged or

Do not waste the experience. God is taking you through it for a reason

depressed. We think we are not making any progress – it feels as if we are standing still or even going backward. We pick up the Bible and try to read but we get nothing out of it. The Lord may be testing us or it could be because we decide to ignore and rebel against the Word of the Lord. We should learn from the Israelites physical experience and endeavour not to spend unnecessary time in the spiritual desert, wandering aimlessly when we can be enjoying the bountiful inheritance in the Lord.

Like the Israelites, we all will be tempted to return to the security of what we knew in the past; by giving up we will fail to fulfil His call on our lives. Time in a spiritual desert can be exhausting, but it doesn’t last forever. God will breathe new life into your weary bones, and on that day, you will find He never left your side (Heb 13:5). He allows challenges to test our resolve and develop character. It is false teaching that says when you become a Christian, you will not experience any adverse events.

When doing what you believe God has told you to do, and it crumbles, is your focus on God or your dream? God said, “I am your exceeding great reward (Gen 15:1). Don’t allow the low points or failures to define you or cause you to turn away from wholeheartedly following Christ. Everyone has numerous crises of faith.

In these dry seasons of life that tend to be devoid of God-honouring purpose and passion, times of deep, painful spiritual questioning, times when we feel like all the certainties and securities of life are being stripped away we need to get eyes off ourselves onto Him, acknowledging ‘I’m dry Lord’. Remember past times of connection and of the consciousness of His nearness and working in our lives. Many people pursue reconnection through worship music, prayer, or spending time in creation with the heart attitude open to Him. Even if you don’t feel like praying, or reading the Bible, do it anyway.

In contrast, we all want to be on the mountaintop (which can be a dangerous and vulnerable place) for no one likes the spiritual desert, yet what we are trying to get out of is exactly the place where God intends to stretch us, enrich us and reveal more of Christ

Look for the good even in the ‘desert’

to us! While not unduly lingering in it, learn the lessons He is endeavouring to teach you. There are things you learn in the desert that you cannot and will not learn anywhere else for the desert experience clarifies and defines what the real priorities in life are and will bring out the character and nature of Jesus if we will allow it. He wants to prepare you for something new.

Do what David did when he was stranded in a literal desert: he personally acknowledged God (“O God, you are my God”), his spiritual longing (not for something God would do, rather for Him and His presence), and his present weakness and the circumstances that contributed to it, he then remembers when he wasn’t in the desert and God’s love right now is better than life (Ps 63:1-8).

See also: barren, character, dependence, discouragement, endurance, empty, faith (crisis of), give up, remember, resilience, seasons, temptation, test/testing, wilderness wanderings.