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The Desert

March 26, 2012

             During Lent we remember the 40 days that Jesus was tempted in the desert.  We are aware of our own susceptibility to temptation.  It is a time for quiet reflection—a time when we enter our own inner deserts and listen in the silence for God. 

            We all go through desert times in our lives when everything looks monochromatic to us, even if we are physically located in the greenest of geographical locations.  We find ourselves without hope in a desolate desert when color is drained from our lives due to relocation, our own illness or that of a loved one, job demands or loss, relationship failure, the stresses of living in modern society or the pain and separation caused by death, to name a few bases for our feelings of emptiness.   

            Yet, it is during our desert experiences that God brings hope.  His message to us in those times is “Hang on.  Take one day at a time and I will sustain you, just as I provided manna to the Israelites each day to sustain them.  I will guide you out of the desert to an oasis of hope.”  He leads us out of our inner deserts as he led the Israelites out of “the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions .” Deut. 8:15.  The desert is a paradox.  It is a place to be feared, but it is also the place where we find God.

            God chose the desert as the place where many miracles were performed and auspicious events occurred.  It was in the desert that The Angel of the Lord, the preincarnate Christ, first appeared in scripture, to Hagar, a rejected woman without hope, left to wander in the desert to die with her young son. (Gen. 16:7).  It was in the desert that God provided manna for the Israelites. (Ex. 16:14).  Manna, referred to by Jesus as “bread from heaven,” (John 6:32),  pointed to something better—to the Messiah, who called himself the Bread of Life (John 6:35).  It was in the desert that God provided water from a rock (Ex. 17:1). It was to the desert where David fled to escape from Saul.  The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted (Luke 4:1), and it was there that he overcame Satan’s temptation. (Matthew 4:1).  

            The desert is desolate and at the same time peaceful.  It is both frightening and soothing.  It is a contradiction.  We find God in the desert when we are bereft of all hope.  We learn that God always provides.  Isaiah told his people to fix the desert roads in preparation for God.[1]  We are to be ready to receive God in the desert.  He’ll be there.  He always is.


Diane C. Reagan, Adapted from “The Desert,” The Laughing Grandma

March 25, 2012

[1] A voice of one calling: In the desert prepare the way for the Lord make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”  Isaiah 40:3. See also, Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:30 Luke 3:4; John 1:23;


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