“The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Exodus 16:3 (NRSV)
We’ve all experienced both plenty and scarcity. Happiness and sadness. God’s presence and God’s absence, or so it seems.
Right now is a happy time as I relish the hours devoted to writing childhood stories—capturing memories, discovering insights and giving life to words on a page. Yet when inspiration runs dry, I bemoan this apparent wilderness. Where are the good ideas? Who brought me to this place of barrenness? When will my confidence return?
A wise friend challenged me for lack of faith: “Why this dissatisfaction? Don’t you know that it’s in the wilderness that God speaks to you?” She might have added, “Don’t you realize that it’s in the wilderness that you listen to God?”
She’s right. When the words flow, I am filled with my own thoughts—so impressive are they, I imagine! When they stop, I look around. Who is my muse now? Can that solitary flower emerging from a rocky path teach me to be resilient? Can the voice of a friend remind me to be courageous? Can a line from Scripture encourage me to open up my mind and heart? Can the very stillness prompt me to make room for God to do the creating?
I prefer those times of joyous abundance when it’s easy to be grateful to a generous God, yet experience teaches me that it’s often in absence that we open up to new growth, new possibility, new depth. As with the Israelites, patience and trust during the lean times yield the bread of a full and satisfying life.
Creator God, we welcome the fullness of life, both the times when abundance leads to gratitude and scarcity leads to a renewed faith in you. Amen
How do I experience wilderness?
Written by Diane Glass