School is starting up. The college kids are back in town. New ideas, new hopes, new activities, new friends, new teachers, new schedules. Although it’s not January 1st, it still somewhat feels like a new year and a fresh start.
This time last year I was full of hope for this season that is upon us now. I had just celebrated my birthday with my church home group, took a little hiking trip with my kids, and sent my youngest off to kindergarten. Then, I was thrust into what I can now see was a desert. Hot, dry, stifling. An oppressive heat that is ready to kill all that tries to set up home there. My child got sick. Really, really sick. The type of sickness that sends you to specialty hospitals in a hurry. This time last year I was watching my child sleep in an ICU bed and writing notes so I was prepared for rounds the next day when a dozen or so doctors would flood the room and discuss what to do next. It was just the beginning and I’m not yet sure there will be an official end.
I should be parched, dried up, and left for dead. And yet somehow over this past year, I’ve been nourished. Sustenance where there should be starvation.
There is only one who can bring life from what should be dead. This is what he does. This is what he promises. He brings growth and life from barren and lifeless places. The Lord gives water in the desert. How does he do this? He speaks. His Words bring life.
Psalm 1 says blessed (happy) is the one who finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates on it. This person is like a “tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 Delighting in the Word of God waters our souls in such a way it doesn’t matter what is happening around us, we will prosper. I have been blessed to watch him do this in my own life this past year in so many ways. What grace He has showered into my own desert.
A Psalm I had memorized became my sustenance as I found myself sitting in the hospital next to my child. The chaos of sickness, unknowns, and suffering was watered by these sweet words of Psalm 131. I remember reciting over and over again these three verses, thinking and praying: “Lord, I’m not going to think great thoughts right now or really any thoughts. I don’t know what is going on at this moment or the next. I’m not even going to go there Lord. What I will do, however, is to rest in the presence and comfort of the Lord. Like a child who has everything they need, content in the lap of their father.” Nourishment.
There were many believers who helped me bear these burdens yet I felt like I couldn’t adequately describe what I had experienced and was still experiencing. They weren’t there in the hospital or in my house or there after the kids were put to bed when I tried to process another day. I felt alone in the desert, isolated. The Lord spoke again through another Psalm. This time, Psalm 31:7, “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love because you have seen my affliction and you have known the distress of my soul.” My desire for someone to intimately know and be present in this desert was fulfilled, in Him. What a gift it is to be known and seen like this! Sustenance
I felt inadequate and overwhelmed about navigating this new world of insurance, medications, and hospital policies. James reminded me that if I lacked wisdom, that I should ask God who promises to not look down in irritation at this request but delights to give generously and He did just that (James 1:5). Strength.
I needed to find the right people to help me. Advocates on the inside of the insurance companies, hospital organizations, and drug companies to help me do things out of process that were necessary to care for my child. I was comforted that it is the Lord who controls the hearts of men, even the “kings” of the companies I was appealing to (Proverbs 21:1). He was in charge of this and I could ask and trust Him to do it. He provided so many people with hearts soft towards helping me: Megan, Morgan, Brittany, Abby, Stacy, Rachel, Nancy just to name a few. Grace.
My experience is not unique to me. We see many in the Bible in similar situations where they find themselves in the wilderness of life. David went through many wilderness experiences and all throughout the Psalms we see him clinging to God’s Word and trusting in him and in turn the Lord sustaining him. Job was ultimately comforted by God’s Words to him (not necessarily his friends’ words) in the midst of his great suffering. Habakkuk too was comforted by God’s Words (not his own thoughts) even knowing he was on the brink of experiencing great suffering. Jesus entered the wilderness and triumphed over temptation with the Words of God.
Let us also remember and be warned that the wilderness doesn’t guarantee that we will find nourishment in the Lord. The Israelites had 40 years in the wilderness, yet it became a place of great rebellion and death because they decided not to trust or delight in the Words of the Lord.
By God’s grace, I was nourished by His Word because I had been feasting on His Word for years. Day in, day out. Sunday after Sunday. Little by little.
There is little time to feast in the desert. In the desert you live off your reserves.
I had been feasting on God’s Word through my own time with him in the mornings but also through other very important means of God’s grace. Things like church where we go through books of the Bible verse by verse. Sunday school, where we do the same. Bible studies where we open the Word and wrestle to know Christ more. Home group where we discuss and apply the scripture preached on that Sunday morning.
In this season of new hopes, new plans, and maybe even fresh starts I want to encourage you to make it a priority to delight in the law of the Lord. Make space on your calendar for these things that will encourage and help you do this.
Make attending church a priority.
Commit to a Sunday school class, home group, or a Bible study.
Make his Word your delight and joy now so it will one day water you in your own desert that life inevitably brings.
Click here to see all of the ways you can feast on God’s Word at Ridgeview this fall.