The physical wilderness is harsh to humans. It is unforgiving and can test every resilience of the soul. But the wilderness can be something more subtle, more everyday in every location. It can be a place and time of emotional, spiritual or medical suffering. The wilderness can be brokenness, hardship, or pain. I’ve been through those wildernesses. Have you?
Have you ever come face to face with a ferocious monster? You know, the kind of villainous, malicious, delicious… err… knee-knocking, pants-wetting, truly terrifying creature who stalks your dreams and watches from behind spooky gnarled trees in the thick of the forest kind of monster? Monsters are scary and there are real problems to face. But it is wise to face them with a heart of faith, whether you have walked with God forty years or forty days.
I’ve found that barrenness is a close bedfellow of hopelessness. Whether it be the intensely deep longing for a child or a medical illness or a relationship longing, barrenness can sap a soul of joy… of peace… of faith. In the case of Sarah and Abraham, it was the desire for a legitimate son and heir.
Often I find myself thinking that the world would be a lot more fun if more people embraced the overall concept of adventure. If they would see the joy in life, embrace the silliness a wee bit more, and see trials and triumphs as if they were chapters in your life’s book. This chapter? Financial hardship. Next chapter? Whitewater rafting. Seeing life as an adventure might just transform the way we endure hard times.
Whenever we stop and focus on ourselves and our problems, we lose sight of who God is and what He has done for us in the past. And we cannot pay attention to His promises for the future because we are stuck in the present, focused on ourselves, and lost in a sea of thought, emotions and upsets. But my dear restless heart God hasn’t ignored you. He sees you. He wants you to trust Him and hopefully wait in His action while you live your normal life.
Throughout the course of my life, my restless heart has constantly battled the ever-present tendencies to worry about tomorrow. I seem hard-wired to worry, as if it is my internal operating system — “OS John 10.1.” I lose sleep regularly, especially if I have a big event ahead. I think of every scenario that might possibly happen… and even those that have no realistic chance of happening! And I worry about them all. But they rarely come true.
We live in a culture that says you can, “Have it your way.” This philosophy has slipped over into every area of life. We begin to think we can have every part of our life customized — designed in just the way we want it to be. Inherent in this kind of thinking is the idea that we know what is best for our lives, that we actually know what we need. When we live this way, our focus begins to narrow, to become more and more self-centered. We also miss out on so many beautiful blessings that could come our way if we were less picky.