Hope in the Desert

I find it interesting that Jesus was baptized in the desert and not in a beautiful forest stream. It was in a desert environment that God chose to begin His work on earth. It’s where John the Baptist was living and crying out to those who would listen “…prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Mark 1:3(NIV).

The desert is a harsh and bleak environment unless you know how to live in it. I know, I grew up in one. There’s found beauty and sustaining life in the desert but to the casual observer or traveler it’s a desolate place. Las Vegas, the city I grew up in, actually means “the meadow,” because there are large pockets of water deep in the ground. You just have to know where to find it. God’s always in our desert places but you may have to reach down deep into your soul before you can access His living water. Are you willing to do that?

Our global cultures today seem bleak and barren of God. Terrorist acts and devastating inhumane situations continue to dominate daily news reports. I often think in Hollywood (where I live) that it’s a Godless desert. But I’m not a casual traveler or observer, I’ve lived and worked here for 25 years. I’ve found Living Water sources and dug my well deep in God’s Word. His promises of life, redemption, and a future are sustaining and I’ve witnessed other vibrant Christians working in the industry who have done the same.

What environment has God placed you in?

As believers, we want to always live in a world where we can “enter His gates with thanksgiving” shouting praise of Godly victories and not deal with the harsh conditions of our world. But that wouldn’t be realistic. We forget that there may be a reason God has taken us into some difficult desert places. There have been choices that have been made (many not even by ourselves) that we’re forced to live with because God has chosen to allow to occur for His and our greater purposes. It feels like we’ve been forced into exile and those desert places that are harsh and bleak. The amazing thing about journeying with God is that He allows us to lament – complain and cry out for His mercy. He listens and allows us to recognize our trespasses so that we can forgive those who trespass against us. Our attitude should be not to falter in our trust of Him but recognize his sovereignty – He is God. He alone rules and can fix our messes. He alone is righteous and even if His ways seem painful, cause more suffering, and we’re left in the desert and desolation, He’s still a loving God. We’re to “make straight in the desert a highway for our God,” despite news reports that tell us there is little hope.

Can you praise Him for where you’re at presently? Praise Him in your suffering? 

Remember, God is in the midst of the suffering. If you really want to know Him – draw close to Him, you have to run into the midst of the suffering. When you run away from the suffering, you’re running away from God. You’re running from the one and only Hope.

The desert may seem like a place of endless desolation and suffering. But it’s not. God is in the desert. He’s requiring us to sustain life not as a casual observer or traveler but in His environment of prayer, Bible reading, and a genuine daily relationship with Him. God supernaturally creates a micro-climate for us like a sudden rainstorm on a hot dry and dusty day. Deep knowledge and trust in Him is required so that He can bring His everlasting water well locations to us. Are you reading your Bible?

I challenge you to read the book of Lamentations this month. Cry out and lament for our world just as Israel did when it fell into exile to the Babylonians, but find peace and contentment knowing that God is in control in our culture of global terrorism that prevails today. He’ s our one and only Hope.

Prepare yourself for the way of the Lord make straight YOUR path to Him.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” Lamentations 3:24 (NASB).