Have you ever been to a desert? I used to live in Egypt and got to experience the Sahara firsthand. There was sand as far as you could see. The ground was covered with rocks. When the wind would blow, you’d get sand in your eyes. There were very few signs of life when you got out there in it. The desert part of Egypt wasn’t where you wanted to be for very long. That’s why a majority of Egyptians live in the Nile valley near the water source. I started to think about living in the desert when I read Hosea. Chapter 2 verse 14 caught my eye. God said, “I will lead her into the desert.”
He was talking about Israel at the time, but I believe it applies to you and I as well. He was talking of how Israel had strayed from Him. In order to win her back, He was going to lead her to the desert and speak tenderly to her. A desert is a place we usually don’t want to go to. When we are experiencing a spiritual drought, we often say that we’re in the desert. But here, God said He was going to lead them to the desert so He could speak to them. I think that He does that to get us away from all the distractions that keep us from hearing Him.
Our lives are so full of noise from meetings, technologies, TV’s, video games and music that it’s hard to hear God. He desperately wants our attention and to speak with us. To get our attention, sometimes He has to take us to the desert. Instead of listening for His voice, we whine and beg Him to get us out of that place. Instead of understanding there’s a purpose for being in the desert, we try to find our own way out of it. Instead of looking for Him, we complain to others about how hard our life is and how everything is going wrong. The thought never entered our minds that it was God who led us to the desert.
He wants to use those dry times in our lives to speak tenderly to us. When things are going wrong in your life, He wants you to look for Him as a shelter not as a complaint hotline. There is a lot to learn in the desert. Most importantly, there can be growth and the start of new life. In verse 15, God says, “I will return her vineyards to her.” What you’ve lost by going to the desert will be restored to you. It may not be exactly how you expect it. It will be better. What seems like the death of one life is really the birth of a new one. What you lost in the old one, will be restored in the new one. God leads us to the desert to destroy the things that hold us back and then restores the things that will renew our love for Him.
Maybe you’re in that desert today thinking God is punishing you. Maybe you’ve been complaining because of how tough things are. Maybe you’re at the point of giving up. If you’re there, consider that God has led you to this desert to remove what needed to be gone and to restore what He wants in your life. Yes, the removal part hurts. It’s a long, drawn out, painful process at times. Your day of restoration is coming. I want to leave you with the last words of verse 15. God said He would “transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” Your restoration and transformation are on the way.