Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
- Proverbs 23:12
If I was having coffee with you today... well, first off, I'd be having a chai latte since I cannot stand coffee, and two, I would tell you that the wandering season is not a punishment; to feel dry spiritually is a part of the whole process. Sounds contradictory, but I promise this because 1) I have been there and 2) I am still there. I am still in a desert, wilderness season that holds so much lack and unknown, and having struggled in this place for several years, there are some things I have learned and hope to encourage you with.
1) Everyone will go through a season like this. Sometimes, we have to wander and wait for our Promised Land; a place where we can thrive and experience abundance. It can be painful to watch others we know experience the blessings we long for: dream jobs, marriage, children, community, financial stability, etc. Just because we aren't receiving any of that does not mean we are being punished. C.S. Lewis once wrote, "I am sure that God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do enter your room, you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise."
Two examples in Scripture of those that had to wait for what was promised are the Israelites and King David. The Israelites wandered for 40 years before God saw that it was good for them to enter the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 8:2 says, "Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey His commands." King David literally fled into the wilderness, hiding for his life for years, before he officially became king, as was promised to him as a young man (1 Samuel 16).
2) These seasons have a purpose. Just as that verse in Deuteronomy shares, paralleling with what Lewis said, God used that season for the Israelites to humble them and test their hearts. Later in Deuteronomy 8:16 it says that this happened for their good. I love in Hosea 2:14-15 how descriptive it is of God leading the Israelites into the wilderness because He wanted to speak to them, and in the process He revealed who He is by transforming their circumstances. God wants intimacy with us and trust me, there is no better place to do it than in a season like this. When things have been stripped away, when there's lack of material possessions, relationships, and distractions, we are left with ourselves and God. As hard as this time may be, we must make the most of it. It is a sacred season in our life that we mustn't take for granted. Everyone’s season will look different; it’s a personal time for each of us that we can learn and grow from. For David, it allowed his trust in God to grow deeper and he developed a greater reverence for Him. For me, it has strengthened my faith, as well as deepened my knowledge of God, and shown me where I need to grow spiritually.
3) Don't allow this season to taint or distort God's character and your identity. This one has been hard for me at times. I have frequently doubted my personal value over the years and for a brief season I doubted God's goodness. King David understands this and he continually preached truth to himself to reflect on who God is. Psalm 100:5, 119:68, and 145:9 are just a few verses that show David proclaiming the goodness of God, something that our human eyes and hearts struggle to focus on when we are experiencing hardships. We cannot let our earthly circumstances, human tendencies, and weary hearts obscure our view of God and what we mean to Him. When we do this, it allows room for the devil to speak lies into our minds, causing a divide between ourselves and the Savior who has already conquered our struggles, and even prevents us from doing what God wants us to do, here.
As I have struggled with my own wilderness season, sometimes I have to look back and see what God has done in my life in the past, and other times I have to look into Scripture. I have also learned from those who have gone before me as mentors, and even sharing my heart with trusted friends. When we reach out, whether to God or other believers, we find that we are never alone in this. The Holy Spirit is our greatest Comforter and often He uses other believers to be the physical embodiments of His compassion, using our mouths to speak truth and life into one another.
1. Am I struggling with purpose and seeing God’s character in my current season, and if so, why?
2. Who can I sit down with by sharing a coffee or meal and speak truth into?
Abba Father, Thank You for Your goodness. You are so kind to us, giving us Your Word filled with hope, encouragement, lessons to learn, commands to obey, so that I may live a life that honors You. I pray that I learn to look for what I can discover in my current season, whether it be about You or about how I need to grow. Give me the strength to face my hardships and allow my life to bring glory to You. Thank You for fellow believers who can pour into me and I into them, Amen.
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