Blessing in the Wilderness

For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.  He has watched over your journey through this immense wilderness.  The Lord your God has been with you this past 40 years, and you have lacked nothing.

Deuteronomy 2:7

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I was reading this verse this morning, and it struck me… even though the Israelites were rebellious, even though they were in the midst of enduring their punishment (wandering the wilderness an extra 40 years for seriously pissing off God), He still blessed them in all the work of their hands.

He still watched over their journey through the immense wilderness.  When they felt utterly lost, He was still watching over them.

He had been with them for all those 40 years, and as a result, they had lacked nothing.

Wow!

I don’t know about you, but in the past 8 years of being married, we have definitely traveled through a time that felt like an immense wilderness.  A long stretch of feeling like there was no clear path to follow, no tangible destination, and almost no hope that what we desired would come to fruition.

It was when we were waiting for my husband to get into his training academy, which meant immediate conditional employment with the department in our city.  He would be receiving a much higher pay than he was making, along with health benefits that covered his family.  We desperately wanted him to succeed, and the periods of waiting that stretched into years of endurance, whittled us down to being people that were plodding along, traveling, and it felt like a never-ending wilderness.

And then it happened, my husband got the call to come in and do three tests.  He passed the first with flying colors.  On to the second, passed again!

And then it was on to the hardest test, the mental grilling test.  He did great, but the group that was grilling him decided he needed to prove how serious he was by starting again from square one.  I kid you not – they didn’t pass him, just because they wanted to see him go through the process again to prove his dedication!

To prove to himself his dedication.

He was rejected on that last test, the test that we all felt so sure he’d pass, the day before his birthday.  When he called me to tell me the news, I prepared my heart to receive him, and decided right then and there to embrace an attitude of gratitude.  It would be another year and a half before he came to be employed by them.

It was during this time though, that God was closest to us.  I look back on that time, and can clearly remember how much more true verses became for me, how I learned to have real lasting joy in the midst of barely having anything to get by.  We had so little, and watching my husband struggle through being rejected, feeling like a failure who couldn’t provide for his family, watching all his hopes dashed and having to start from square one again, was heartbreaking.  Standing by him, encouraging him, and pressing onward through our personal wilderness was so good for us, we learned so many lessons that we never would have learned otherwise.  And like I said, verses started popping up out of the page to find real meaning in our everyday life.

“Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands and remain faithful.

He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”  (Deut. 8:2-3)

Even though we had very little, we always somehow had enough.  Even though we couldn’t afford many things, even things people generally take for granted, we lacked nothing.

“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.  He has watched over your journey through this immense wilderness.  The Lord your God has been with you this past 40 years, and you have lacked nothing.”

I learned what real, authentic, gratitude meant and looked like, that whatever your circumstances, there was always something to be grateful for.  I learned what lasting joy and contentment meant, the kind Paul talks about from his prison cell in Philippians.

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last you have renewed your care for me.  You were, in fact, concerned about me, but lacked the opportunity to show it.  

I don’t say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  

I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot.  

In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being contentwhether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.  

I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  (Phil. 4:11-13)

I remember viewing chores differently during this time… the drudgery of washing dishes became my crying and thanking God that we had any dishes to wash at all.  I became so grateful for dishes of all things.  When doing the laundry, something I didn’t like doing, I made it a point to pray for each person as I folded their clothes, thanking God for our family and how I knew He was watching over us.

If you find yourself going through what seems like a never-ending, immense and dry wilderness, do not give up hope… I’ve written this for you today.  God will renew your strength, and it is possible to find immense peace and joy even in the midst of going through a trial.

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