A Desert Promise
“I will speak tenderly to her.”
One of the most exhilarating experiences in life is to live a moment when we realize the God over each cell in our bodies is also over each star in all the galaxies, that God has spoken to us.
We’ve been praying, asking, looking for God, and the moment in the car when we tuned in and heard the lyrics of a song, our devotional book covers our situation perfectly, or the sermon seemed to be just for us. We sit stunned for a few seconds, astounded by the timing, the spot-on word, and the fact the Creator of the universe orchestrated the precise message our heart needed.
Beautiful, journal worthy are these times that build our faith and strengthen our ability to move forward. We experience a calming peace that we are not alone. “If no one else,” we think, “God is with me.”
Abandoned, dark, and desperate are the times in our lives when we feel far from God, longing for a morsel thrown our way. “I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me… but my soul was not comforted. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help” (Psalm 77: 1-3).
When we are in the desert, sunburnt, throat dry, sweat dripping, deliriously dehydrated, and the muscles in our feet, calves, and lower back are weary from walking in the unstable sands of life, these are the moments we need most for God to speak.
We need God to show up and provide a little shade, a bottle of water, or a place to rest. It seems unimaginable that God would ever lead us to walk in such a place. Yet in a book about a love story between a husband and his “prone to leave him” wife mirroring the love story between God and His “prone to wander” people, Hosea records,
“But then I will win her back once again, I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.” (Hosea 2:14, NLT).
Whether God led us to our desert experience or whether it was the result of our own making, God is there (Psalm 139).
We are sometimes better positioned in our pain to hear things we would ignore or not fully understand if we were instead walking through lush green meadows.
Facedown in the dry gritty sand, we need to tune in and listen from our place of brokenness, heartache, and misery. Hear what Hosea says God will do from this place.
• Speak tenderly and answer (Hosea 2:14, 21). • Transform the Valley of Trouble into a Gateway of Hope (2:15). • Remove the names of lesser gods from our lips (2:17). • Commit to our being known and knowing Him (2:20). • Show love to those “not loved” (2:23).
God does speak to us when we lean in to listen. He does answer our prayer in His way and His timing (Psalm 118:5).
The Gateway of Hope is realized through the person of Jesus and through His Spirit, we have His presence with us always (Psalm 16:11). Jesus is our Hope and through Him, the hope of resolve for our desert circumstances will rise (Ephesians 1:18).
We could spend all day on “removing the lesser gods from our lips.” Chains are often broken and freedom is brought on through challenging times. To never have a people-pleasing, approval-seeking, or driven to be productive, controlling moment in my life again is something for which I look forward. As I look back from where I have come, I can see those lesser gods taking more and more of a back seat and I am confident one day they will exit the car completely.
The last two promises listed are profound for anyone feeling unloved and left without a place to feel they belong. God had a particular purpose for the people of Israel, but in this love story between Israel and God, His desert promise includes a place for the unloved and excluded.
I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD. “In that day, I will answer,” says the LORD… I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, Now you are my people.’ And they will reply, “You are my God!’ (Hosea 2: 20-23)
Whether we have been led into the desert or were airdropped, the One Who “turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground…” (Psalm 107: 33) does not leave us without hope. He also takes the barren and empty places of our lives and turns them “into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water” (Psalm 107:35).
Parched and worn out, you may not feel wanted or cared for or loved. You may feel there is not an ounce of hope left. Assuredly, you are wanted, you are cared for, and you are deeply loved.
Our hope comes from Christ and the oasis in the middle of a desert promise offering us a place to be heard, transformed, freed, known, and to know the One Who Loves us the most.
Meditation: Christ is my Hope. Reflect: What do you feel God is speaking to you in your current situation? How can you focus more on Christ transforming your Valley of Trouble into a Gateway of Hope? What are some of your “lesser gods”? How can you embrace better the promise of being known and loved by God? Digging Deeper: Hosea 2; Psalm 107: 33-43; Psalm 77: 1-14; Hebrews 6: 13-20
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(Bible References: Translation, NLT – New Living Translation)
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