“Where there is sorrow there is holy ground. Some day people will realize what that means. They will know nothing of life till they do.” – Oscar Wilde
Nobody signs up for suffering, but it happens to us all: sickness, tragedy, loss, and pain. The hardest of all is the struggle that just keeps hanging on and day after day we feel alone in a hot, dry desert.
If you are there, be encouraged! God uses desert time to make us strong, to help us learn dependence on him, and, often, to prepare us for something he wants us to do. Think about Moses who spent years there tending sheep before God called him to lead his people out of slavery. The Israelites spent four decades in the desert learning to trust God alone to meet their needs. Jesus was in the desert for forty days of fasting and prayer before beginning his public ministry. His wilderness time included direct confrontations with Satan. The desert can be a difficult and dangerous place!
Desert experiences tend to strip away the trappings of life so we can see what is truly essential. It is then that God can reach down, touch our souls, and feed us with food that will satisfy: Manna, refreshment for the spirit, just enough until we are healthy and strong and ready to be led out of the wilds into a more abundant life.
The desert truly is holy ground. If you are suffering today, be as open as you can to God and his Spirit within you. Over time, his healing touch will come.
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. – Psalm 30:11-12
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus . . . who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame . . . ” – from Hebrews 12:2
As Jesus contemplated the cross while praying in Gethsemane, I sometimes wonder if He was thinking about the people He loved and the pain they endured because of Satan’s cruel power. Most recently, the sorrow of Mary and Martha at the loss of Lazarus – the pain so bad it caused Him to weep for them. But there were many others, too:
Blind and lame men
Widows and orphans
By helping those in most need, He had given a taste of life as it was meant to be – no sickness, sadness, pain, rejection. He was doing so much good. Why stop now? Why the cross? It had to do with the spiritual battle we cannot see, but of which He was keenly aware. He knew that doing good and teaching truth would not be enough to take the world back from Satan’s power. The only way to win was to die.
Maybe, as He prayed “not my will, but Yours be done”, He was remembering those He had helped in His few years on earth. Then He thought of the broken world still full of pain and suffering. He thought of us – you and me – and wanted us to have the same opportunity of new life and joy Lazarus, lepers, and the Samaritan Woman had.
So, He chose the cross. For us. Offering forgiveness and relationship to all who would see and believe. The cross – His blood-stained invitation to life as it was meant to be.
“There is no sin, no weakness of soul or mind for which You do not have an adequate remedy, purchased by Your death.” – Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen