A RIVER IN THE DESERT
“For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”
// 2 Corinthians 1:5-7
When Moses was leading the people of Israel through the desert, he was faced with an obvious crisis – there was no water for the multitudes to drink. When the people’s thirst developed into anger, desperation and accusation, Moses turned to his God for a solution. God, it says in Exodus 17, instructed Moses to strike his walking staff up against a rock. Moses obeyed. The rock split open and fresh water flowed out for the people to drink, quenching their thirst and sustaining them for their journey.
Just as we may see a rock as an unlikely source of nourishment and refreshment, so too times of suffering seem like improbable settings in which to find rich blessings and deep revelations of God’s love. Oftentimes our natural inclination is to run from adversity, to avoid pain and to pray for an end to hardship. But in this upside-down Kingdom that defies logic, contradicts human wisdom and turns normality on its head, we can find the riches of Heaven hidden therein.
Praying for God to remove obstacles and deliver us from challenges is a fair and acceptable prayer. But with a shift in perspective and a change of language, we can see a ‘rock’ as holding within it the answer we’re looking for. Every affliction is an opportunity to discover a new facet of who our God is and what He is able to do in and through our lives. But we have to take action – we have to strike the rock.
Accessing blessing during affliction can be as simple as praying the opposite to what we feel, or taking contrary action to what our hasty human nature would have us do – when we feel like pulling back, we press in; when we feel lowly, we bless others; when we feel dry and depleted, we run to the House; when we feel alone, we show up to Dinner Party; when we don’t want to go to church, we arrive early and volunteer our help.
When we are in need, we are generous.
When we are desperate, we give thanks.
When we are isolated, we turn to His Word.
When we want to give up, we keep putting one foot in front of the other.
When we are at breaking point, we hand over control to Him.
When we don’t know what to do, we worship.
One of the most seemingly throwaway yet encouraging verses in the Bible is Genesis 26:19, saying “Now Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of living [spring] water.” Within the valleys of life – the times of suffering, heartbreak, calamity and distress – profound discoveries of God’s all-sufficient character are to be made, if we choose to dig deeper.
// Alicia Hosking