by Cindi McMenamin
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” Hosea 2:14 NIV
Do you ever have one of those weeks – or months – when it seems like God isn’t around? When it seems He’s gone on vacation while you’ve been hitting the rough times?
When my husband voluntarily stepped out of his pastoral job for an unpaid “one year sabbatical” (that was his term for it), I began to wonder if after eight months God had gone on a permanent coffee break.
God, he’s restless to get back into ministry. Where are You? God, we can’t keep paying for our own health insurance. Aren’t You taking note of this? Lord, we need You to intervene…any time now!
Yet God wanted to take us to the edge of desperation – where we truly needed Him – and there He reminded us that He’s been right there with us, all along. Through the years I’ve learned that God has a way of drawing us out into the desert of need in order to teach us about Him.
In the early years of my marriage, I learned that my husband couldn’t possibly meet all my emotional expectations and I had to look to God to be my “spiritual husband” (Isaiah 54:5).
At the beginning of my husband’s first ministry, we didn’t have much money, so I learned to depend on God as my Provider and take Him at His Word when He says He will supply all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19).
While I was parenting a teenager, I had to look to God to be my Wisdom, my Source of Strength, and my Counselor.
And just recently – as I waited for God to move during a time in which my husband and I seemed to be standing still financially, emotionally, and in ministry – I had to look to God to be my Future, my Hope, and my Direction.
God knows that if I have everything I want, right when I want it, then I no longer need Him. Without need, I’m not truly desperate for Him.
In the Old Testament book of Hosea, God compared His people to a wife who had betrayed and deserted her husband. God told the prophet about His plans to draw them back to Him:
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of [Trouble] a door of hope. There she will [sing] as in the days of her youth….“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’….” (Hosea 2:14-16 NIV)
I wonder, sometimes, if God doesn’t take that same strategy with us today. Could He be allowing us to go through a desert (in our marriage, job, or personal life) so He can “speak tenderly” to us and show us a new side of Himself? Could He be allowing you to trek through the wasteland of financial hardships, so you will see Him as your Great Provider? Is He allowing you a journey through parched areas of loss so you will see Him as your Greatest Possession?
When we filter every circumstance of our lives through the grid of His unfailing love, we will see every test and trial, every desert and disappointment, as a loving gesture on His part to draw us closer to Him.
About the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 16 books including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), and Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, and free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.
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Join the conversation: When has God drawn you closer to Him through a walk through the desert?