For forty years, the Israelites wandered in the desert. Because of their unbelief and disobedience, a journey that should’ve been a short walk into the Promised Land took an entire generation! Just picture that for a minute. Hundreds of thousands of Israelites have just been freed from a life of enslavement; but, rather than believing that God would continue to look after them and protect them, they responded to his deliverance with grumbling and complaining!
Every time I read about the Israelites journey through the wilderness, I feel like screaming at their insolence. It baffles me how quickly they disregarded the incredible miracles they had experienced — Red Sea Crossing, anyone? — and say to God, “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” (Exodus 14:12)
Rather than looking ahead in the hope of freedom, the Israelites could only see the desert that lay in front of them! Yet, despite the Israelites’ selfishness and bitterness, God remained faithful to His people and provided for them. Deuteronomy 2:7 says, “The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.”
A few weeks ago, during a call with my prayer group, one of my friends began telling us how she felt like she was going through a season of wandering in the wilderness like the Israelites. In despair, she spoke about feeling alone, surrounded by emptiness and silence. As I listened to her words, I felt the writing gears in my mind switch on and the Lord prompting me to share a story I don’t usually talk about. Little did I know, God was planning to turn the tables on me and show me something amazing!
God Works in Incredible Ways!
My seventh birthday will forever be ingrained in my mind. At the time, my family was living at my grandparent’s house in Kent, England. We didn’t have a lot of money, so when my birthday arrived, all my parents could afford was a balloon and card. Nevertheless, they did their best to make the day special, taking me out for dinner at Pizza Hut and to the cinema to see Shark Tale. Despite having little, my parents made the most of what we had, though it’s taken over fifteen years to no longer see this day as one of the gloomiest of my life. This isn’t because I’m a spoiled brat and think I deserved more, but because I could still picture the grey streets and remember the heaviness that made me feel alone and sad.
As I shared this “tragic” tale with my friends, I felt God working on my heart and saying, “You’ve believed these lies for too long, it’s time to remind you of the prosperity you had in that season of waiting.” For the last few weeks, my world was shaken as God has been removing the weeds that had blinded me from the truth. I had convinced myself that my family’s time in Kent had been lonely and barren, but God shone a light through the grey gloom, and for the first time, I’m able to look at those memories in color!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5)
God is Faithful!
When my dad realized that we were going to be in Kent longer than originally planned, he went on a walk and asked the Father where I could go to school since he didn’t want me to get behind. As he was praying, he came upon a private girl’s school called Baston. Stopping to look at the building, he heard the Lord say, “This is Hannah’s school.”
A little stunned, my dad nevertheless trusted that God was going to provide and proceeded to call the school, asking to speak to the headmaster. In faith, my dad inquired about the possibility of me attending their school, making it very clear that we were unable to pay the tuition, and miraculously the headmaster accepted! Apparently, my grandfather — who the headmaster had mistaken for my dad — was one of their weekly assembly ministers, and his magic tricks and Bible teachings had blessed everyone.
Welcoming me with open arms, Baston gave me a full scholarship and even provided me with the uniform — There were at least eleven pieces of clothing with four changes in a school day. The agreement was that I could go to school, and if my parents felt led to leave a donation before we went home, that would be sufficient!
A trip that should’ve taken two weeks lasted twelve. The days were full of many trials and, seeing those memories through the eyes of a seven-year-old, it’s taken me years to learn the blessings that had transpired. In a season of waiting, God was faithful, providing us with food, shelter, clothing, work, and even a school for me to attend!
“Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” 1 Timothy 6:6-8
God is ALWAYS with you!
Do you feel like you are in the desert, surrounded by emptiness with no sign of God’s presence? I want to encourage you that even in the midst of loneliness, heartbreak, fear, and despair, God is providing for your every need and calling you to lean on him. (Matthew 11:28-30) I believe that to truly learn who you are and understand God’s glory, we have to first learn what it means to feel alone and helpless; however, take heart because God is not done with you and has already set you free! Remember, even Yeshua had to go into the wilderness to be tested and prepared! (Matthew 4:1-11)
In the middle of the harsh desert, there is still life! “You keep asking for what’s next, but what if God’s not finished with where you are now?” (Unknown) We can spend our days asking God to take us out of the desert and into the Garden of Eden, but how will we grow stronger or learn to appreciate the blessings when we haven’t found thanksgiving amid the trials? (1 Thessalonians 5:18) One of the most important lessons we have to learn is how to stand and serve the Lord when Satan is throwing every hardship and trial our way!
The Journey is Worth it!
Don’t be like the Israelites who complained about the desert that lay in front of them. Their faith wavered because they couldn’t recognize what the Father was doing or where he was guiding them. Thousands missed their destinies because they could only see the emptiness, forgetting the miracles and faithfulness that had set them free, and were disobedient when all along God provided for them every single day.
I know it’s not easy to remain faithful when everything around you is falling apart, but that’s where Yeshua comes in. He knows that you can’t manage it on your own, and he doesn’t want you to! If these words are speaking to you, then I urge you to ask the Father to open your eyes and show you what he’s been doing in this season of your life.
Be encouraged and have hope that you will get through these struggles! Call on the Father if you’re unable to stand, and he will cover you with his wings, giving you strength and protecting you from the attacks of the enemy. (Exodus 14:14; Isaiah 40:28-31) You are going through these things for a reason, but you’re not alone; the Inspire-Truth community and your closest friends are all standing by to support you and pray with you! However, you have a choice; are you going to allow emotions, rejections, and defeats overwhelm and pull you away from God, or will you hold on to what the Word says, not losing heart and surrendering these thoughts and trials to the Lord?
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3