No matter how dry, how miserable, how hopeless and hard our life situations, God is always there for us and with us. He always sees us through—with His strength and power, His comfort and peace.
Eternal Perspectives by Sally Bair
Unwelcoming wilderness has its good points
When I hear about Siberia, I think of a vast wilderness where the only inhabitants are those who have been exiled as punishment for their crimes or political differences. One of the least populated places on earth, Siberia’s extreme harshness seems to shout, “No one welcome here.” Those forced to live there have had to make drastic changes in their living habits in order to survive.
Any wilderness can be less than welcoming to people. Some may contain much natural beauty, but the surrounding harshness of weather or living conditions overrides their attractiveness unless people are prepared.
We might all face an unwelcoming, harsh environment at times. Our wilderness could be a place where lack of love shuts out the pleasing sights around us. Or feelings of grief, hopelessness or distrust may distort our perspective of the beautiful surroundings. Few people purposely choose to spend time in such unwelcoming places, whether mental or physical.
The Bible offers a different view of living in a wilderness. It can become the source of our greatest spiritual growth, our greatest joy. Many biblical leaders have experienced life-changing encounters with God while forced to stay in a wilderness. Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist met God in the wild places of God’s own choosing. Each found his spirit renewed by such an encounter. And when the Israelites floundered in body, mind and spirit in the wilderness of exile, God promised to help them.
“’Fear not, you … men of Israel! I will help you,’ says the Lord and your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. … ‘I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.’” (Isaiah 41:14, 18) The Israelites would need water when they returned to their damaged and desolate homeland, and God promised to provide them with such.
In the Christian community, it is not unusual to hear comments such as, “I’m going through a dry, wilderness time with the Lord. I want to be back on the mountaintop [of spiritual bliss] again. What shall I do?” Rather, time spent in the wilderness can be our greatest joy, for it’s there we can focus on God without distractions or enticements. As wilderness lovers prepare for their outdoor experiences, we too can prepare for encounters with God through Bible meditation, study and prayer.
Lord, thank You for the bleak, seemingly unwelcome places we encounter in life that draw us back to You. Remind us of Your promise to help us through our wildernesses by bringing new growth and bountiful provision. In Jesus’ name, amen.