“The Lord humbled you in the desert to teach you that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word from God’s mouth.” Deuteronomy 8:3
Looking out the window on a February day in Minnesota one doesn’t immediately think about deserts, as many of us – ok, some of us - are routinely driving on lakes encased in two or three feet of ice. Temperatures regularly dip below zero here, and winds swirl a mixture of snow and occasionally even topsoil. Yet the idea of desert is not foreign to anyone who has lived long enough to experience some of life’s parching moments. Your geography has little to do with living in the desert. The desert is certainly not a friendly place to be. It can be a hostile environment where you might succumb to heat during the day and cold at night. Water is at a premium, yet the most common reason people die here, at least in the Middle East, is drowning from flash floods.
So why does God send us to the desert for seasons of life? He sent Moses there. He sent His own Son to the desert. The desert served as training for Moses. It served as a place of solitude for Jesus. Both had to rely on the father in the desert. Both were brought close to the Father during their stay.
We all experience desert. When we find ourselves there, we have a choice, to rely on our own strength or to rely on the Heavenly Father. The choice we make has two starkly different consequences. Jeremiah speaks to this when in chapter 17:5-6 he advises, “Cursed is the one who trusts in man and who depends on the flesh of his own strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 6. He will be like an arare bush in the wasteland; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places in the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.” The arare plant produces a fruit that looks appealing to eat, but when you open it up you find it provides no fruit at all. The sap of the plant is a skin irritant and the juice is poisonous to both to humans and animals.
Heeding Jeremiah’s advice in verses 7-8 gives us a much better outcome. 7“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. 8 He will be like an acacia tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” The acacia tree has roots deep enough to withstand the desert heat and drought but also holds fast against the desert flash floods. It provides shelter and nourishment.
Are you in the desert today? If not, you will be soon enough. Remember to trust in the Lord and put your confidence in Him. He alone will bring you through, and He will teach you lessons along the way.