“On again, trot and walk and trot, jingle-jingle-jingle, squeak-squeak-squeak, smell of hot horse, smell of hot self, blinding glare, headache. And nothing at all different for mile after mile. Tashbaan would never look any further away. The mountains would never look any nearer. You felt this had been going on for always—jingle-jingle-jingle, squeak-squeak-squeak, smell of hot horse, smell of hot self.” The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis
That feeling that this moment has lasted “for always”, that the parched stickiness of your throat has always been there is perhaps the worst part of a trial. You are so tired of this-can’t it just end? Weariness clogs your thoughts.
It feels like centuries since water has cooled your mouth and refreshed your soul. You begin to dream about peace and rest. Then, suddenly, you see it-there in front of you, a pool of azure shaded by graceful palms. You find the energy you didn’t know you had to run towards it. You can almost feel the quenching of your thirst.
But then the oasis merges into itself, and you realize that mocking image was simply a mirage.
Will you ever find rest?
All too often as we traverse the desert places, we seek out oasis after oasis, thinking it will refresh us and give us the sustenance we need to face this trial. But before our soul’s thirst is quenched, the image fades, the water dissipates, and all that is left is the memory of that mirage.
We seek after worldly pleasures, praise of friends, self-indulgence, distractions of all kinds, thinking they will give us the rest our souls need. But we are left still so parched, drier than before, and unfit to take on the challenges we face.
We stare up at that glaring sun, mocking up with its brightness. Will we ever find a way out of this wasteland?
However, what we don’t realize is this: we don’t actually need to leave the desert. In a strange paradox, it is here in the greatest anguish of our souls that we find the rest we crave. Those whose throats have been parched alone know the worth of water’s cool rush. You must first be deprived to know the depth of your longings. It is also true that the desert wanderer must leave behind all unnecessary baggage. So with our souls. Our wounds will not heal until we let go of those lesser distractions whose satisfaction mimics the true refreshment our soul needs.
In the desert, as we languish for hope, satisfaction, peace-that is where God places us for a time, so that we learn to languish for Him. In our deprivation we learn that only God can satisfy us.
For some, the time spent wandering, thirst unquenched, was a few hours or days. For others, this ache spanned months or years. I don’t pretend to know every reason for every desert. I do know that our God is good and wise, and that nothing is wasted. Someday we will know the reasons. But for now, I am satisfied knowing my God offers something better than reasons and answers: He gives Himself.
So I will leave the screeching hyenas behind and dip my dry hands into the sparkling deep. I know He has promised, not that I will never languish, but that He won’t leave me when I’m dry-that I will be refreshed, if I turn to Him. Jeremiah 31:25 says, “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”
Psalm 107: 1-9
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.[a]
Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.”