One of the greatest gifts God has ever given me is failure. Sounds crazy, I know, so let me explain. During my adolescence and early adulthood, I had most anything I could want: a stable family, strong and supportive friendships, a long-term boyfriend, good grades in a safe school, the respect of my peers, a nice car… you get the picture. There was not much that I wanted that I didn’t have. And the success brought about an unreal amount of arrogance.
In the book of Revelation, Jesus addresses an entire church of people like this: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing.’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.” (Rev. 3:17) I was spiritually bankrupt.
Fast forward to my first two years of college. There I was, a small fish in a very big pond. I was several hours away from home with no close friends nearby. My relationship was over, and no matter how much I filled my calendar to stay busy and feel important, I couldn’t shake a completely debilitating anxiety. It was a sense of dread and intense worry that wouldn’t let up. I hope and pray that someone reading this post can relate and be encouraged today with this: Hold on, friend. God humbles us by showing us our need and then giving us a far better and more lasting way to fill it. This is exactly what He did for me, and it’s what He has done throughout time for His children.
Deuteronomy 8 summarizes how this worked with the Israelites. Although Egypt was no cake walk for God’s people, they at least had shelter and their fill of food and drink. But when God rescued them from slavery there, he led them in the desert for forty years.
News flash: Deserts ain’t the Hilton. Water is hard to find, food is scarce, and the heat is scorching. And I’m still puzzled as to how reliable their shelter could’ve been given their wandering. To say they felt their need is an understatement. Exodus 16:3 records their dramatic complaint against God’s chosen leaders, Moses and Aaron: “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Although I’d bet the majority of those reading this blog have never felt a physical hunger they couldn’t satisfy, most everyone has felt a chronic heart hunger.
So this begs the question: Why in the world would God rescue His people from slavery only to put them in a seemingly worse condition than before? And why would He allow them to experience a trial in which they despaired even of life (see 2 Corinthians 1:8-9)? I believe the answer lies in Deuteronomy 8:3.
“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”
There it is. He causes us to hunger so that we can be filled by what He alone provides. Manna was food from heaven. The Israelites could do absolutely nothing to produce it. They had to depend on God alone. The same is true of our trials. They teach us a dependence on God and His Word that we would never learn otherwise. And why is God so set on us knowing and living by His Word? Well, you’ll have to wait on my next blog post for that. There are too many encouraging truths to limit it to the very few words I have left!
Please share! How has God taught you a deeper dependence on Him and His Word through your hardships?