January is the month of diets and resolutions and “this time I’ll stick with it” plans. It’s a month that teases us with newness, but we all know that on the first day of the New Year, we all wake up the same person as we went to sleep the night before.
I’ve prayed every day of this season for it to conclude quickly. That I’d make it through and get to the other side. That blissful other side of the trial where I can look back fondly on the lessons I learned and the ways that God sustained me that are now in the past.
But, I’m still in this season. I went to bed on December 31st, 2016 in this season. I woke up January 1st, 2017 in this season. And I don’t know how long it’s going to last.
Can you relate?
Instead of fixating on when this season will end, I want to know what I’m supposed to do in it!
When I find myself bemoaning the length and depth of my particular trial, I come back again to the Israelites. What I’ve learned from reading about their wanderings and how God describes their season in the wilderness has changed my whole perspective on life and purpose.
You see, God didn’t simply have His mysterious, veiled purpose for them to spend years and years wandering in the desert and having to completely rely on Him for everything. His reasoning is actually recorded in Deuteronomy 8. He let Moses in on His plans, and through Moses, lets us in on it, too.
Remember every road that God led you on for those forty years in the wilderness, pushing you to your limits, testing you so that he would know what you were made of, whether you would keep his commandments or not. He put you through hard times. He made you go hungry. Then he fed you with manna, something neither you nor your parents knew anything about, so you would learn that men and women don’t live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. Your clothes didn’t wear out and your feet didn’t blister those forty years. You learned deep in your heart that God disciplines you in the same ways a father disciplines his child.
It says here that these trials, these wilderness periods, reveal something deep and profound about us and about God. That He walks with us through these trials to learn about what we’re made of. It creates opportunities for our relationship with Him to be deepened. And it doesn’t just remind us that we need to depend on Him, it helps us practice doing that.
So while I want to task myself with “doing everything better” this Resolution Season, might we join together to practice obedience in each of our seasons, whether we know their purpose or not. Maybe without the guesswork and the agonizing question of “why me?” that I lay awake with at night, my focus might steady on the faithful obedience of living into this reality day in and day out. May we hear the words of the Lord to the Israelites, reminding us that He is a good parent who knows what we need, and is so much more trustworthy than we could even imagine. May that bring us peace in 2017.