A few days ago, I noticed a friend’s social media post: “Life feels really hard right now. Prayers appreciated.”
I typed a quick, “I’m praying for you,” knowing exactly what she meant. I’ve walked through some hard things myself during the past year. Sometimes life feels fresh and full of promise, while other times it feels dry and barren, like trudging through a hot, dry desert.
It’s interesting that deserts play a significant role in Scripture. The Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years. Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and nights before being tempted by Satan. John the Baptist lived in the desert. And Paul went into the desert for three years following his conversion to be instructed by the Holy Spirit in the ways of God.
There’s something about a desert that’s transformational. It’s a place absent of most life — and what is needed to sustain life. In the desert, a person cannot depend on his surroundings to support his life. The desert is a reminder that God is the giver of life and the One who meets all needs. Sometimes walking through a dry and barren season of life can drive us to depend on Jesus more.
Dry bones come alive
One of the most interesting desert stories happens in Ezekiel 37. In an extraordinary vision, God brings Ezekiel into a valley filled with dry bones and asks him if he thinks the bones can live. “Oh LORD God, you know,” Ezekiel answers. God tells him to prophesy that the bones will live. After Ezekiel does so, the bones connect, and flesh covers them until the valley floor is strewn with reconstituted bodies.
Next, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy that breath from the four winds will fill the lifeless bodies. Ezekiel prophesies this and they rise and become a living, breathing ancient army. What a sight this must have been to witness. After the miracle has occurred, God tells Ezekiel, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’”
In those times, Israel was going through a figurative desert. Their hopes and dreams lay dashed on the ground like those dry bones. But God was gracious to remind them that He wasn’t finished with them yet. God promised Ezekiel that He would raise Israel, put her in her rightful land and make her live again.
Hope in the desert.
One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 43:19, which says, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” God is not bound by the desert. When life feels hard, here are three ways to combat spiritual dryness:
Seek godly support. I appreciated my friend reaching out through her post. She knew she needed spiritual back-up for the difficult things she’s walking through. Scripture instructs us to pray for one another (Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16). We desperately need each other’s prayers. Over the last few months, I have regularly sent out an SOS to a friend and received comfort though those prayers. I also regularly pray for others and their struggles and needs.
Remember God’s promises. The Bible is full of God’s great and precious promises. He promises us salvation, His presence, comfort, peace, joy and so much more. As we focus on God’s promises, our worries and fears become less prominent. This is especially helpful during desert seasons. The best way to be reminded of God’s promises is to spend regular time in His Word.
Praise through the pain. Worship turns our thoughts from our own difficult path to the glory and power of our God. As we thank God in all circumstances, we proclaim that He is bigger than our circumstances and the source of living water for our parched souls. I love to listen to praise music in the car and sing praises corporately with my church body on Sundays. When life is hard, praising God brings refreshment and hope.
All of us walk through the desert sometimes. But even in those parched places, God is at work. In fact, He loves to show us His provision and power as He ministers to us there. As Ezekiel’s vision reflects, nothing is ever so dry that God cannot bring forth life. He makes a way in the wilderness and gives us all we need.
Copyright 2022 Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. All rights reserved.