The desert. A place of desolation and isolation. No food. No water. Nothing to sustain you.
When I think about “desert experiences,” two stories from the Bible come to mind.
The first is about the children of Israel. After their miraculous deliverance from Egypt, they were only weeks away from entering into the Promise Land. Yet, when faced with “giant” opposition, doubts entered their hearts, and they were forced into the desert where they wandered for 40 years (Numbers 14).
The second is about Jesus. After his baptism in the Jordan River, he was led into the desert for 40 days where he was tested (Matthew 4).
Obviously, “desert experiences” are not pleasant, even painful. Can anything good come from them? Deuteronomy touches on a possible purpose for these wilderness experiences:
“Remember how the Lord your God has led you in the desert for these forty years, taking away your pride and testing you, because he wanted to know what was in your heart. He wanted to know if you would obey his commands” (v. 8:2).
For the children of Israel, God miraculously fed them each day. God was their source. Jesus fasted during his 40 days in the desert. And like the children of Israel, God was his source.
The desert is a place where nothing natural will sustain you. It’s a place where things don’t always go the way you planned. Sometimes, it’s a place where you question your own faith in God–a place that reveals your heart.
Any experience with panic or fear is a desert experience. It’s not pleasant. It’s a difficult place to be. But, it’s also a place where God becomes your source:
Your source of peace.
Your source of rest.
Your source of provision.
Be encouraged that God is with you. Yes, it may be difficult, and it may be lonely. But your Father is with you–holding you, guarding you, watching over you. And remember, you are going through this experience “so that things will go well for you in the end” (Deut. 8:16).
Prayer:Â Father, this desert of anxiety and panic is very lonely. It’s a place where there seems to be no life, no joy. Lord, I know that here in the desert, I am being tested. Nothing here will sustain me except you. I put my trust in you, Father.