Joni And Friends Daily Devotional 28 July 2022 | Thursday Message
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TOPIC: This Great and Terrible Wilderness
“Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst.” Nehemiah 9:19-20 (NIV)
Joni And Friends Daily Devotional 28 July 2022 | MESSAGE
After 55 years in my wheelchair, I’ve learned a lot! But learning something in suffering is not always the point. Sometimes, just the fact that you survive is a victory.
I say this because for each of us, there are terrible times, deep troubles whose shadow we can never really escape. You look back, and all you see is a wilderness, like the one Moses trudged through: “And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness” (Deuteronomy 1:19, KJV). Yes, as I sit in my wheelchair today and look back over more than half a century of paralysis, I can say it has been a great and terrible wilderness.
That’s why I so appreciate the essay of English preacher Joseph Parker on this topic. Here’s my paraphrase of his insights I found so helpful:
“We are the better for the wildernesses. The rough road, cavernous, uphill, where the wind roared and the cold, assaulted; and we are the better for passing through it patiently and steadily. Rightly trodden, its barren sand made us men. Taken in the right spirit, we saw in the wilderness, the beginnings of the garden of God.
When we look back on it all, through all that was great and terrible, how can we not remember the divine help we received? Who can forget the clump of palm trees where no palm trees were expected? Who can forget God, the tower of strength to us in our time of weakness? The ‘great and terrible wilderness’ was the place where great prayers were prayed.
Looking back, you owe your very life to the wilderness which, at the time, made you afraid… you may have wanted your wilderness journey to be a mile shorter, but it was in that last mile that you probably saw the brightest angels.”
Reverend Joseph Parker’s essay describes so perfectly the way I look over my shoulder at the past. I see so much desolation and devastation. I see long, hard nights in which I found no relief. I look back and, yes, it has been terrible. But like that wilderness in Deuteronomy, I can also look back and say it was great. A great God delivered me time and again. Never once was I abandoned; never once did God leave me. God’s Word provided great promises on which I leaned.
There were great people—wonderful, committed, compassionate friends—stuck with me through the hardest parts of my journey. I look back and I see a great purpose in it all: great achievements for Christ’s kingdom, and great victories that were won over Satan. Best of all, I see great glory to my great Savior. All of this, all of it in that “great and terrible wilderness.”
Joni And Friends Daily Devotional 28 July 2022 | PRAYER
God, so many times in the wildernesses you have me walk, I want to hurry it up and get it over already. I want to learn what you want me to learn so I can be done. I want to leave the terrible hurt behind me and experience a victory untouched by pain. I forget that you have great things to show me in the wilderness: your promises, your presence, your purposes… you. Whether I stride from my wilderness or come through it, heaving and hurting, help me to see the victory is in leaning on you, following you through every darkness and desolation.
Thank you for reading Joni And Friends Daily Devotional 28 July 2022, Thursday Message