Friday, August 7, 2015

4 Truths for Hope in the Desert

"I am with you and will watch over you wherever 
you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will  
not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." 
When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, 
"Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it." Genesis 28:15-16

Jacob found himself in the desert. I'm sure he settled down for the night near an oasis or a well as a source of water. He was in the middle of nowhere, alone, with a stone for his pillow. I'm sure he was afraid and unsure about what tomorrow held. Jacob needed more that water to drink, he needed the refreshing feeling of hope.

God stepped into the wilderness to reassure Jacob and He comes to us when we feel lost in the desert of our circumstances. We desperately need hope when we're surrounded by loneliness, pain, or loss. We need water in the desert. And to us the Lord says:

1. I am with you. A few years ago, God moved me from Houston to the desert of west Texas. I wasted precious time demanding that He take me back home. I felt like God had abandoned me. Slowly, He taught me that home isn't a place. Home is where loved ones are. Home is in His presence. It took me a while to become aware of God's voice when He said, "I am here." This is a promise we can cling to: He is with us.

2. I will watch over you. "Don't you care? How can you do that to me?" It's hard to believe that God watches over us when our lives are falling apart. When I was laid off a year after I lost my Mom to cancer, I couldn't believe He'd take my job away. But, as I look back, I see that He saved my life. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally, and physically. I couldn't see that I was steps away from collapse, but God was watching over me. Sometimes we can only see His love and care from the other side of the valley.

3. I will bring you back to this land. No one wants to dwell in sorrow, frustration, or despair. I've sat in many a pit, losing all hope that things would ever change. We might wonder if life will ever be normal again. But God never leaves us where we are. He reaches out to take our hands and to lead us back to peace and joy.

4. What I have promised you. Where I stumble is in a correct definition of what God has promised me. I want to be delivered from difficulties. Better yet, I don't want to experience them at all. But God's promises are so much better than that: His presence, His love, His work to restore us. These are the promises that sustain us.

When Jacob woke up, his circumstances hadn't changed. He was still out in the middle of nowhere. But one thing had changed: He knew God was with him.

Our circumstances might not change, but God's promises can lift us up out of fear or despair. We can feel His presence and be filled with hope and strength. Our worlds might be shaking but God's promises are our sure foundation.

How have God's promises provided stability during difficult circumstances?

Photo credits: Oasis: Google image,  Desert flower