The other night I was praying with someone at the altar and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness came over me. As I looked at her I considered her life and all that she wants to do for God, and I asked myself why. Why does she feel hopeless or like God had abandoned her? I know she loves Him and desires to please Him with all of her heart. Sure, she may not be perfect but she’s trying, so why does she feel so hopeless? Then it came to me, God does these things by design. He takes us out into the wilderness to build us up. The problem is, we don’t understand this process nor do we care for it. When we begin to feel what seems like separation from God, the first thing we ask ourselves is, “What did I do wrong?” We wonder if we let God down somehow, or we begin to look at our lack of time spent praying and reading our Bible. We think surely it has to be something we did wrong or we wouldn’t be feeling this way right now.
So much of the time we are looking for happiness while God is trying to give us joy. You see, often times happiness comes from the things in this world, such as a new house or car, new clothes or a better job, even a new-born baby. Sure, it can even come from sin, see Heb. 11:25. But the real truth of it is, we want happiness because it’s the easiest to obtain. We can plan for it, save for it, ask for it, and even share it with others.
Joy however, only comes from God. The Bible states in Nehemiah 8:10,”Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
You see, God doesn’t take us out into the lonely places of life because He is angry with us. He does so to give us Joy! “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning“ (Psalms 30:5). We can say that it’s not fair and that He should choose a better way to give us what we need. We have to remember this, anything worth having, is worth fighting for. He takes us out to break us of the selfish desires of our flesh. In the desert there is no happiness, no laughter, only you and God. It’s the moment of truth. God said these words to the prophet Jeremiah, “They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way; for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satisfy the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord” (Jer 31:9;12). The psalmist David also had this to say about weeping being turned into Joy, “He that goes forth and weeps, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him” (Ps. 126:6).
If you are in this place right now don’t lose hope, God has not forgotten about you! The children of Israel were out in the desert for 40 year with nothing but God to sustain them. He provided them food from heaven, water from a rock, shade from a cloud, and a pillar of fire to keep them warm at night. He gave them everything they needed, but kept them out there until they had finally learned to stop complaining and start believing in Him and his power of deliverance. God has a special plan for you and your life, just let Him take you through the times of loneliness so He can prepare you for what’s next. He loves you, and promises you that he will never leave you or forsake you. In fact, he says it four times just so you won’t forget. Deuteronomy 31:8, Hebrews 13:5, Proverbs 3:3, Joshua 1:5.
Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10).