Have you ever traveled to a desert before? I remember seeing Morocco’s deserts for the first time and feeling like there was no end in sight. That’s what it feels like when you are going through a desert. You’re parched for thirst and wondering how much longer it will be until you find what you’ve been looking for: shelter, civilization, maybe a good plate of food. We’ve all been there. Maybe not a physical desert, but certainly plenty of emotional and spiritual deserts. I find it so powerful that in Scripture, the desert was consistently used as a testing ground for people’s faith. One of the most important lessons in life is to learn how to trust God in the desert. You may be walking through a desert season right now, but don’t think for one moment that you’ve been deserted.
Earlier this year, I was reading through the Book of Judges. Yeah, you know, just one of those easy reads. Kidding. Judges is not my favorite book. Judgment is not my favorite topic, either. But, there it is. Right in the Bible, meant for us to read thousand of years later from when it was first written. And, as I was reading the Book of Judges (if I’m being honest, I was just trying to power through the book), suddenly I was taken aback by this verse. Before I knew it, tears were flowing down my cheeks as God used His Word, once again, to send water into my dry season.
“So God caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground at Lehi, and Samson was revived as he drank. Then he named that place, “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,” and it is still in Lehi to this day.” -Judges 15:19
What appeared to be empty and a hollow place is where God chose to bring forth living water that would revive Samson. Who knew that in 2020, a verse from Judges would be a verse that I would cling to, a verse that would point me towards the hope of who God says He is. Faithful. Provider. Waymaker. One who answers us when we cry out.
Another story that I absolutely love is the story of Hagar. I don’t like the circumstances that Hagar, Abraham and Sarah find themselves in, but I love the redemption that is found in this story. After conceiving Abraham’s child and being ridiculed and rejected by both Sarah and Abraham, Hagar flees to her own desert. “Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water.” Genesis 16:7 // It was here, in a desert, that Hagar found more than just physical water, but she was found. She was found and seen by God, and an angel came to her aid, giving her good news of what was to come. Did you know that in the Bible, there is only one instance where a person gave God a name? And, guess who had this honor? Hagar. A maid, a nobody in the sight of her own household, was suddenly seen by God+discovered answers that she had been looking for. Hagar called Him El Roi, which translates to “the God who sees me.” In the desert seasons, in the seasons where fruit is barren, in the seasons where it seems that nothing is going right, it is in these seasons that we discover the greatest discovery of all: God sees us. God sees you. God sees me. And, what power there is in this revelation! You see, when Hagar heard from heaven, everything else fell into place.
You may be searching for answers right now, but let me remind you of this: your Answer has already been given. God is the Answer. In His Fullness, He is everything you could need for this exact moment. The desert season may last longer than you ever anticipated, but if you open your eyes+keep knocking on heaven’s gate, you will discover that God has been there all along.
When I was in High School, recently after my parents divorced, I walked through my own desert. I was filled with so much confusion and questions. And, I felt so alone. I remember one night, I looked out my window and stared up at the moon and asked God, “Where are you?” I didn’t receive an answer that night, but years later, when I was praying during another difficult season, God reminded me of that exact moment. He brought me right back to that window where I had cried out to Him and said, “I was with you then and I am with you now. I saw you then and I see you now.” Although I didn’t know what laid ahead, God did. In my Christian faith, this is what I have discovered to be the most beautiful truth of all: God sees me. The Creator of the Universe sees you+I. And, He loves us beyond anything we could ever imagine. Isn’t that incredible? Just saturate yourself in that thought for a moment. The Creator of EVERYTHING, of endless galaxies and beauty we can’t even comprehend, sees YOU. He is your El Roi.
In her book, Open Hands, Willing Heart, Vivian Mabuni writes, “This side of heaven, we may not find out the reasons our lives turned out as they did either. Our choice to live with open hands even when our circumstances don’t fit our plans is a decision to have faith in a trustworthy God…when I look back, I see how each challenge and loss led to a greater understanding of what it means to follow God in a fallen world. Each trial deepened the mystery of God and broadened my understanding of His character.”
It was in her deepest suffering that Hagar got a revelation of who God is. Trust me when I say this: In a season that looks like nothing is happening, in a season that is dry and barren, in a season that feels as though you have been waiting on God for years, in a season where your world feels as though it has been turned upside down, in a season where the pain is unbearable, in a season where your physical healing doesn’t come, in a season where there are more setbacks than ever before, that is where God reveals who He is to us. We discover the depth of His character, we discover His goodness+His mercy to us, we discover that everything we could ever hope for or dream of is already right in our lap. Through every desert that I have walked through, that is where my understanding of who God is has deepened. I am beyond grateful that God not only gives us answers in the desert, but that He provides Himself, the Greatest Answer, to all our needs. May you know, more than ever before, that God sees you right where you are. And, not for one moment, are you ever alone.