Deserts, valleys, and deserted islands are usually not habitable places. People do not make such places their home, and if they find themselves there, it is always a temporary situation; they are just passing through.
The desert is a dry, hot place, water is scarce, food is scarce and nobody else lives there. A person in a desert will feel very lonely, isolated, hungry and thirsty. Should he be in trouble, there will be no help. Nobody in their right mind will choose to live in a desert. Therefore, anybody in a desert was most likely placed there, intentionally, by another or got there because he/she got lost.
The Israelites were in the desert, not by choice. God was taking them through the desert to the Promised Land, a place flowing with milk and honey. They could have made that journey, by-passing the desert, but God had a good reason for taking them through the wilderness (see Exodus 13:17-18). They were excited about the Promised Land alright, but they hated their desert experiences so much so that they wished they were back in Egypt, as slaves. They were willing to do anything to be out of the desert, including killing Moses, their leader. They had no food, God sent them manna; they had no meat, God sent them quails (see Exodus 16). They had no water God sent them water from the Rock! (See Exodus 17:1-6).
We all have trials in our lives we could refer to as deserts, valleys or deserted islands. Life in our individual deserts is dry, painful, exhausting and quite often inexpiable, and with no end in sight. How did we get there? Where were we going? How are we coping?
So how did we get there? Most likely, God put us there or allowed our circumstances to work out that way, so He can have us to Himself in the desert. He needs to get our undivided attention and teach us lessons we cannot learn otherwise (see Jeremiah 29:11).
And where were we going? We might not know the short term destination but the final destination is to be like Christ. He is teaching us lessons to mature us and make us fit for heaven (see James 1:2-4).
How are we coping? We should be looking to Christ the author and finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:1-2). Focusing on the goal, will make the desert more tolerable and hopefully, we will even get to appreciate it. I am not sure the Israelites ever got to the point of appreciating their desert experiences as a nation, but we should. I know of individuals who are thankful for past painful experiences, because of the lasting lessons they learned to benefit themselves and others.
Let’s learn from the Israelites. Because of their rebellion and murmuring in the wilderness, they stayed there longer than they would have. The older generation, including Moses, did not make it into the Promised Land. We need to get with God’s program. We need to make it safely through the desert into the Promised Land. “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5 NLT).