What are deserts? Many people think of places like the Sahara—rolling dunes of hot sand with no signs of life. Some consider parts of the Arctic to be a desert. It makes sense—rolling dunes of snow with no signs of life. In either case, deserts are big, empty, and hostile.
Do you ever feel like you’re living in a desert? I do. Sometimes the season of life we’re living in feels extreme, difficult to bear, and void. We may think: “How could God possibly be working in my life right now? I’m doing nothing but surviving—barely. My life isn’t like the heroes of the Bible. My life is empty.”
However, nearly all the people in the Bible had what I call “desert years.” One of the most obvious examples is the Israelites’ forty years of desert wanderings (Numbers 32:13). But there are also Moses’s years as a shepherd in the desert before God called him back to Egypt (Exodus 2:15–3:10), David’s years of hiding in desert caves before God fulfilled His promise to make him king (1 Samuel 23:25), and Abraham and Sarah’s years of nomadic desert life before God gave them a child (Genesis 12–20). And Jesus didn’t skip the desert experience when He came as a human to die for our sins and bring us new life through His resurrection. He spent forty days in a desert before He began His ministry (Matthew 4:1-11).
For some of these people, not much is written about their desert years. But that doesn’t mean God was absent or that these years were meaningless. Think of the Israelites wandering aimlessly in the desert. In that time, God showed His loving, fatherly faithfulness. Their shoes never wore out and God provided them with food and water (Exodus 16–17; Deuteronomy 29:5). God showed that in the absence of all other things in life, He was present. How is God working in your desert years? I don’t know. But I know His life-giving presence is there. • Abigail Scibiur
• Have you gone through a season of your life that felt like a desert? Do you feel like you’re going through desert years right now? Are there any Bible passages, memories of past experiences with God, or trusted Christians you can draw near to for comfort during this time?
• When we’re in our desert years, it doesn’t always feel like God is present. But if we know Jesus, He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We can bring these feelings of loneliness and distance to God in prayer and ask Him to remind us of His nearness anytime.
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14 (NIV)