Ann Rodgers, age 72, was lost in the Arizona desert for nine days. She survived by drinking pond water, eating plants, and spelling the word help on the ground using sticks and rocks. When Ann started out to visit her grandchildren, she never intended to end up in the desert. But when her hybrid vehicle ran out of power and her food and water dwindled, she began scavenging for desert plants. “When I saw the rescue crew, I sat down and bawled,” Ann said. “I just said, ‘Thank you.’”
This month we will read in the book of Numbers about the nation of Israel, who also spent time filled with anxiety and fear as they wandered in the desert. What began as a victorious journey to the Promised Land quickly became confusing and desperate. For 40 years, due to their doubting and disobedience, the Israelites wandered from Mount Sinai through Kadesh, the plains of Moab, and the Sinai desert. And, like Ann, they desperately wanted out. Again and again we read their cries and complaints.
The book of Numbers is not your typical “lost in the desert” story, because while the Israelites’ journey may have seemed to have gotten off track, they were safely within God’s care. As promised, He never abandoned His people. He was beside them, guiding them to their destination and supplying their every need.
I have often heard people describe the life of faith as a journey. We set out toward our heavenly destination, but the road before us is not always easy. And in times of sadness, weakness, and discouragement we sometimes compare it to being “in the desert.” You may feel lost in the desert of life, but remember that God has promised to be with you. No matter the circumstance you may be facing, you are never deserted by Him. “The Lord your God is the one who goes with you, He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).
All of us experience times in our faith journey where we feel lonely, burned out, perhaps even abandoned by God. But it is also in those difficult places where our attention turns to our Savior. Away from the pressing needs of daily life, we can experience the richness of God’s presence. May you hear His voice and experience His presence today. We may walk through the desert, but we are never deserted.