…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Are you in a desert right now?

If you find yourself walking with sand between your toes, and you are clearly not on holiday, take heart. When all is stripped away, and the heat presses in with no relief in sight, God is there with you. Though desolate, this desert experience could very well be a growing experience in disguise, if you are willing to endure.

It’s easy to think, nothing grows in a desert. And it may appear that way, but it isn’t true. Some desert plants grow slowly, but once rain comes they produce a colorful display of flowers. Others, whose seeds may have lain dormant for years, begin to flourish after the desert rain.

I wish to be rescued from the desert, but God instead leads me through the parched place. The slowed activity in the desolate place serves to grow my character and patience, stripping away unnecessary travel items and bringing me to a place where conditions are more conducive to producing trust.

Despite first appearances, the desert has hope written all over it. Even though growth may be imperceptible, God is making room for new buds. He doesn’t pluck me out of the heat but brings the desert rain to water my thirsty soul. He provides all I need to survive—even thrive—along the journey. In this way, I’m not destroyed before reaching rich, fertile land again, I’m preserved.

Today’s verse reminds me that Jesus went through the desert when he endured forty days alone, fasting in the wilderness. Even he needed to be fortified for his ministry and eventual suffering by spending time in this desolate place, and so do we. Jesus endured the worst in order to claim the best for us—life eternal with him. He suffered so we can experience God’s presence and comfort in our own suffering.

If you’re in the desert, keep going. Through sandstorms, intense heat, exhaustion, loss of direction, loss of hope, or endless longing for the relief of rain or rescue, wait on God. He walks beside you through the desert. His presence is your provision. His spirit waters your parched and weary soul. Though slow, growth and beauty propagate even in parched places, and once you’ve endured the dry places, you will be well prepared to flourish in lush places with him.

In God’s care, I can persevere through the desert and be led to a greater portion of fullness, intimacy, and holiness in Christ.