“But they, our ancestors, were arrogant; bullheaded, they wouldn’t obey your commands. They turned a deaf ear, they refuse to remember the miracles you had done for them; they turned stubborn, got it into their head to return to their Egyptian slavery. And you, a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, incredibly patient, with tons of love— you didn’t dump them. Yes, even when they cast a sculpted calf and said, ‘This is your god who brought you out of Egypt,’ and continued from bad to worse, you in your amazing compassion didn’t walk off and leave them in the desert. The Pillar of Cloud didn’t leave them; daily it continued to show them their route; The Pillar of Fire did the same by night, showed them the right way to go. You gave them your good Spirit to teach them to live wisely. You never stinted with your manna, gave them plenty of water to drink. You supported them forty years in that desert; they had everything they needed; their clothes didn’t wear out and their feet never blistered.” Nehemiah 9:16-21 (MSG)
When you are in between two points in the journey of life, it can feel as if you are adrift. You might even associate it with being in a desert, where all you see for miles and miles is barren land. Navigating such seasons of life can be full of emotion, many questions, and simply challenging.
When we think of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, we can almost immediately associate it with a “desert” season for the people of God. Yet, there were some significant mildstones that took place on the other side of the Red Sea. In Nehemiah 9, the people are recounting their heritage through a time of confession and worship. As they recount the deliverance from Egypt when they were under the tyrant rule of Pharoah, they celebrated God’s victory. But, on the other side of the Red Sea, not everything was a walk in the park. The Israelites disobeyed God. Yet, God’s provision and protection for the Israelites during their time of wandering in the wilderness reveals something significant about His character. Even in the most desolate of places, God was still present, working. Even though the Israelites had acted out in disobedience, God’s forgiveness, love, and compassion compelled him to continue to keep close watch over his people. The physical things such as clothes that could not seemingly be sustained for 40 years, were sustained. Their physical need for food was met on a daily basis. Even in the desert place, God was still working. And in your desert moment or season, God has not left the scene. When it seems that bad has turned into worse, God is still present, working to bring about provision in your life. He is sending you a blessing every day that the sun comes up again. He is working through the unexpected friend who calls to encourage you. You might feel that you have seen God’s deliverance as you look in the rearview mirror of life. But as you look ahead, you see empty space, void of life and purpose. In your desert moment, lift your eyes to Jesus. He has not forgotten or overlooked you. His compassion is great, and He sees you on the other side of your Red Sea. And, as the Israelites’ story did not end in the wilderness, your story can be a testimony of God’s faithfulness and provision as he guides you through the desert to the promised land.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.