Streams in the Desert

Have you ever felt dry? thirsty? empty? exhausted? alone? barren?

We’ve already compared certain seasons in our lives to storms…but what about deserts?
Aren’t they applicable as well?

Deserts are usually large.
When standing on the edge and looking out across a desert, you can’t see the other side. How far it stretches, you aren’t sure. All you know is the end isn’t in sight. Once you get into it a ways, you look back and can’t see the beginning either. All you can see in any direction is desert.

Have you ever faced something in your life that has seemed to stretch on forever? You even get to where you can barely remember life before you arrived in this place.
At some point, you entered this season of your life. It may have had an abrupt beginning, or perhaps you entered it so gradually, you aren’t really sure where or when it began. Either way, you’re there…and there’s nothing to indicate you’ll be leaving any time soon.

Deserts are generally hot. (I say “generally” because the Gobi Desert in Asia and the deserts on Greenland and Antarctica are actually quite cold!)
The continent of Africa is well known for its deserts. There the temperatures can climb to dangerously high levels, and without shelter and plenty of water, things can turn ugly in a hurry.

Have you ever felt the heat of the fire you’re facing to the extent you think you may not make it? The heat is so strong that there isn’t much chance of escape without finding shelter.

Deserts are empty, lifeless, barren.
There is little to no life in a desert. Sure, there are scorpions, lizards, spiders, etc., but villages? trees? people? Forget it. Why? Because there is no water.
The main characteristic of a desert is the lack of water.
Where there is no water, there is no life.
It’s impossible for much to survive in a hot, dry climate. Everywhere you look, all you see is shifting sand.

Have you ever felt as though nothing and no one was around? You’re left to face this empty, lifeless place alone. No friends, no family, no one who understands.
Sometimes, you think you see something to offer some relief…..but no. It’s just a mirage.

You’re tired, but there’s no where to rest.
You’re thirsty, but there’s nothing to drink.
You’re hot, but there’s no trees to offer shade.
You long to see just one person, but every direction you turn holds nothing but emptiness.

It’s pretty safe to say we’ve all been in a desert at some point or another.
If you haven’t yet, trust me, there’s one out there for you.
We are all apt to face things that leave us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually dry. It’s just a part of life.

But cheer up!
Even deserts can’t last forever!
I know it feels that way sometimes, but just like anything else, a desert has a beginning and it must have an end.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

Yes, it’s hot. Sometimes to the point of exhaustion… But the desert fires have a job to do. They have a purpose.
The heat draws out impurities. Things that shouldn’t be there, things that hold us back.
Sometimes God turns the heat up when we’re begging Him to turn it down…but He always gives grace and strength to endure the heat. When it’s all said and done and the blemishes have been drawn out, we’ll look more like Christ.
That’s the purpose of the fire.
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 1:7)

Yes, it’s lonely. Isn’t it amazing how we can be surrounded by people and still feel like we’re all alone? But that’s the way it is sometimes.
As often as I have cried wanting someone who understands my hurt, my pain, I think the best thing sometimes is for me to be alone.
If I had someone who I felt could help me, would I look to Christ for help? Would you?
I can’t answer for you, but I know myself. If I could find someone with whom I could relate and pour out my troubles to them, I wouldn’t go to God. I wouldn’t need to, right?
But, when I’m all alone, I’m reminded that I’m still not alone.
I have a great High Priest who is touched with the feeling of my infirmities. He does understand my hurt, my pain. He is the only One who can help.
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” (Psalms 121:1,2)

Yes, it’s dry. Sometimes this is the hardest one for me to swallow. Extreme thirst is a terrible feeling.
I hate feeling spiritually dry, unable to soak up the water of God’s Word because the ground of my heart is so very dry and hard.
Little drops of water seem to evaporate before they’re absorbed. I need God to send the rain into my soul and let it soften that hard ground.
What I need is a flood.

“Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south.” (Psalms 126:4)
These southern streams this verse is referring to are those streams and rivers that dry up during the hot, dry season. There’s no rainfall for an extended period of time and the streams disappear.
As that season comes to a close, a wonderful thing happens.
The warm breezes begin to melt the snows on top of the mountains. The warm air meets the cool air, which produces rain clouds. As the rains begin to fall and the melting snow begins to flow down the mountain, it begins to fill those dry riverbeds.
Almost overnight, this land that has been so dry, barren, and lifeless is now green, thriving, and full of life once again.

That is what the Psalmist was asking God to do for them. That’s what we can ask God to do for us.

O Lord, Turn our captivity! Send those southern streams! Let there be life in our desert places! Send the rains we so desperately need! Help us look to You, and You alone, for our help. Help us to submit to the heat and allow it to do its work in our lives. We know that in the fullness of time, this season will end, and Your refreshing rains will flood our souls once again. Until that day comes, help us to praise You in the desert for the work You’re doing in our lives.

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