Stuck in the Wilderness

I have had a thick fog rolling around my brain this past week. I felt like I was wandering around in circles inside my own head, and if I ever happened to find my way out of this dense fog, bam! I was greeted head-on by a brick wall.

All the thoughts that once occupied my head seemed to have also gotten lost in the fog, because let me tell you, I could not think of one thing to write about. As I have said before, what I write each week is a reflection of what has been on my heart. Here’s the problem: I felt that I had nothing on my heart (or brain) this week!

For me, when I start to feel lost, or when I get sucked into my own head, I start to put the pressure into over-drive. This began to happen this week; every spare moment I had was consumed by wracking my brain on what to write. Random words would float mindlessly through my head all week. I would pluck one of these words up and twirl it around in my mind like a wine connoisseur doing a taste test (yes, I just googled how to spell “connoisseur”). However, just like a snobby wine connoisseur, I would turn my nose up at each word and move on to the next one.

I was starting to feel extremely frustrated! What if I never have anything to say again? Why did I commit to writing this blog weekly? I can’t do this!

I started to feel overwhelmed and doubtful.

Listen, I was struggling. I was praying and praying for something to be put on my heart! And then all of a sudden, as if it was there the whole time, all those random words that had been floating in my head were strung together. These were the words: struggle, pressure, growth, and manna.

The first thing I began to realize was that struggle was on my heart this week and I just didn’t want to admit that. I was struggling under the pressure I had put on myself. Pressure that did not need to be there in the first place! I felt that I had to force myself to automatically have something to say, and I didn’t. What I had to say would become prominent when it was the right time, it was not something that I could force. God has a perfect time for everything. My job is to trust his timing and his faithfulness.

That being said I also know the importance of struggle. Wherever we are at in life we must go through a varying degree of struggle to grow. We cannot stop or become complacent when we are struggling, because that is when we become stagnant. When we persevere through the struggle that is when we begin to see growth. Think of when you go to the gym, it is often hard, but when you struggle through it you begin to grow muscle and gain endurance. This reminds me of 1st Corinthians 9:26,

 “so I run with purpose every step. I am not just shadow boxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.” 

Do what you are doing with purpose and dedication, and keep pushing forward.

I have seen so many people either give up in their struggle and grow complacent because it seems too hard (I have also done this at times). Or, rather than face their struggle they pretend that it isn’t there (also guilty of this). Both of these are detrimental to growth! When we give up or pretend the struggle doesn’t exist we tend to attempt to band-aid the problem at hand. This is seen in a variety of different ways: excessive drinking and partying, over-working, withdrawing, being controlling, becoming complacent, etc.  In refusing to face our struggle, we compromise our growth, all the while the problem is never being fixed. It’s okay to struggle, no matter how big or small the struggle, and it’s okay to admit that you are struggling!

I feel as if I am finally at a place in my life where I am beginning to look back on some of the struggles I have gone through and I can see the growth that has come out of them. This gives me a new determination for when I face new challenges. When we are going through a struggle we must work hard to not only keep moving forward, but also to remember what we have learned through the struggle. We also must remember that God will deliver us from the struggle and we must trust him through it.

This brings me to my last word: manna – bread from heaven.

I used to get so frustrated reading the Old Testament of the Bible because the Israelites would always get mad at, turn away from, and distrust God after all he did for them. All they ever did was grumble and complain and doubt God when they went through a struggle, despite the miracles they had seem him perform for them.

AND THEN, I realized that I am exactly like the Israelites. No matter how many times God would deliver me from a struggle, I was complaining and doubting as soon as I faced a new challenge, forgetting that God had delivered me before, and would definitely deliver me again.

When the Israelites got hungry and thirsty, they accused God of leading them into the desert to die. They forgot everything God had delivered them from, and soon they longed to be back in slavery rather than in the wilderness. When they faced a struggle, rather than trusting God and pushing forward, they gave up!

God did not give up on them. When they asked for food he sent them bread from heaven day after day. As it says in Exodus 16:4-5 and 16: 17-18,

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.”

“The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed”

God will provide for us when we feel like we are stuck wandering through the wilderness. God will give us what we need and exactly how much of it we need. The fear that the Israelites felt in the desert was unnecessary. They had no faith even though God had shown time-and-time-again that he would provide for them.

How many of us also do this? We have seen God’s goodness and perfect timing time after time, yet we are quick to get angry, become fearful, and/or give up in the midst of struggle. When we do this we waste our time and do not grow or progress in the way we are supposed to. The Israelites constantly feared, doubted, and gave up; because of this they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, and the generation initially freed out of slavery in Egypt, died and did not get into the promised land.

When we go through struggles we must trust God and know that he will provide for us. We must have faith and keep marching through the wilderness until we get to the promised land. However, when we give up and refuse to keep pushing forward, we will never reach the promised land.

When I first started writing this blog I had a friend who encouraged me by telling me that God would not fail to send me manna. I did not fully understand what she meant at the time, but now I see what she meant was that I do not need to worry about what to write, because without fail God will provide. I do not need to put the pressure on myself to have something to say, because God will put it on my heart. All I need to do is keep trusting God and keep moving forward.

Wherever you are and whatever struggle (big or small) that you may be facing, keep on keeping on. Don’t get stuck in the wilderness, rather keep on trusting and moving forward, because God will provide and he will deliver you through the wilderness.

~S~

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