When we are tired and feeling defeated, it’s easy to let doubts and unbelief take control of our thoughts. It seems death is not the greatest enemy (although certainly the last) but rather unbelief. I love the story of the Israelites, or more specifically, God’s tenderness and faithfulness as he led them to Canaan. They cried “foul” so many times–against God, against Moses. They were sure God was against them, that He had hard dooming purposes for them anytime pain or hardship threatened.
I’ve been tempted to cry “foul”, not in the desert but in a sophisticated ICU which has been our home for most of 2013. It’s easy to believe that we are left out to dry or forgotten as we watch our son slip away and retreat into uncontrolled seizures. That God is against us or doesn’t care. Or that his purposes are cold and cruel.
The Israelites had “had” it: the sand baked their feet, the manna tasted bland, they were thirsty, the were a rag-a-muffin band up against a city with walls to the heavens and the giants next door looked like they would literally stomp them out. The odds didn’t look good and so they met up in their tents to murmur and question God’s motives: “Because the Lord hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, “The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there.”’ (Deut. 1:27)
Have you had your heart melt with fear? Or maybe it was your stomach twist with nausea at what you fear is impending doom? I’m like the Israelites–I may not meet in a tent to murmur but I fret in a quiet place with my husband. Satan wants us to believe the Lord is against us, he wants us to succumb to the pain and fear. We melt from our own “giants” of seizures and pneumonia. What are your giants? Are you melting in your heart, feeling like you are in a difficult struggle with impossible odds? Are you tired from hard days when you feel alone in caring for your child or days when you go in circles not seeming to make any progress?
Moses reminded them of truth as they drank in the lies of unbelief, “Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.” (Deut. 1:29-31).
They felt like they were in the battle alone, that the prospect of victory or defeat rested on their efforts, but the truth was, they were being carried. God was doing the work, they simply needed to trust him for strength and provision and trust that he intended good for them. How tenderly the Lord cares for his own, he carries us in the hard times even when reality seems to shout that we are deserted and forgotten. Trekking through a desert was not comfortable or convenient. Most of our situations are not what we would choose. But the blessing God has in store for us on these desert roads are many. Unbelief steals away the awareness of the everlasting arms carrying us.
He carries his own. He has carried us “all the way that [we] went until [we] came to this place.” He carries my son, now lying in a coma and on a vent. He has carried us to this day (March 27, 2013) and to this place (DeVos Children’s Hospital, 806). Where are you today? He has carried you too, hasn’t He? You’ve made it through countless days you looked up against, through situations you thought you’d never be able to go through. Let’s take all the heart murmuring lurking inside and repent of our distrust in His goodness and faithfulness. We have a God who carries us, just as we carry our own children!
How tenderly he cares for us even in the desert.