Inhabiting the Desert Places

Recently I have been struggling with various circumstances in life and decisions that must be made. I am a firm believer in the sovereignty of God (that should come as no surprise to you who read this blog every day) and firmly believe that He is in charge of all the events of our lives.

I realized one morning that I have made the same error as some women I meet with from time to time, in that I have made the opinions of man more important that the Word of God. Of course, it is not intentional but nevertheless I found myself realizing this morning that I have neglected to seek the wisdom, direction, and comfort of the Lord in these trying times as much as I ought to.

As I sat down with my Bible I was reminded of the verses in Jeremiah 17:5-8 which begins in this way, “Cursed is the man who puts his trust in man, and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord…”

The passage goes on to describe the results of this as being like a shrub in the desert, inhabiting the parched places in the wilderness. I can tell you- I have been there.

Why do we start strong with the Lord and fade out in the long stretches? We begin praying and seeking and wanting what God wants for us and over time we become wrapped up in the details of the occasion and we turn away in our heart from focusing on Him.

Remembering that all that is of this world is temporary is an important piece of making it through this life.

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:17

While Paul describes the afflictions of this life as “light” and “momentary” and our sufferings as temporary and designed only for this lifetime there are times I certainly struggle focusing on the eternal weight of glory they are producing (Romans 8:18)

Have you ever thought that present suffering will cause future glory? This is a tremendous promise! All of the difficulties, and trials, and sorrow and suffering that you and I endure in this life is affecting a change in the image of who we will become in eternity! This makes every single moment of our suffering very significant.

Even the worst of our sufferings are light compared with that “eternal weight of glory” which they are producing (1 Peter 5:10; 1 Peter 1:6; 2 Cor. 4:17.) They are nothing in duration. For these sufferings are but for a moment; but the glory we will share will be eternal. Sufferings will soon pass away; but the glory we will one day experience is never going to end. Do you have any concept of how long eternity is? I doubt it; I know I don’t really understand the idea of eternal or never ending.

Paul understood this; he learned it through his trials. His trials began the moment he began to preach Christ. He wanted us to get two ideas in as emphatic a manner as possible; first, that his afflictions were light, and, secondly, that they were momentary, and soon passing away. His object was to contrast trials with the glory that awaited him, as being heavy, and as being also eternal.

Our afflictions are working, producing, and affecting future glory.

This is why we are to set our minds on what is to come. Not on the problems, the suffering, the afflictions and begin to look at the glory that is to come! If we really take these verses to heart and begin to understand in more than a superficial way that in comparison to what is ahead off us- the joy, the wonder, the splendor, the glory- this stuff is nothing.

As you pray about the burdens you bear, where is your focus? Is your focus in prayer, “God please end this” or is it “God be glorified?”  Paul never would have made it if he lived focusing on the suffering, he understood that when it comes to suffering, our minds must be renewed and we must learn to focus on the glory to come.

Today, think of what God is accomplishing in this season of suffering. This time, think of the changes that have been made in your heart and life. Think of how your perspective has changed on things as a result of this trial.

And by all means, stay out of the desert!