by Marquita Jones
Readings: Psalm 23, 1 Samuel 15:22-31, Ephesians 5:1-9
As I write this devotion, I am in the midst of one of the most challenging seasons of my adult life: bearing through financially tough times, healing from deep heartache, and facing my deepest fears knowing that they must die so that I can rise and die with Christ to the new life that God is calling me to: a life in ministry leading and living in God’s light with and among His people. These challenges of life sometimes leave me with a sense of despair, failure, and emptiness that is so palpable all I can do is cry. In many ways, I am experiencing desert time. Many of us experience desert time at one point of another in which we feel like we are struggling alone through dry, dark spaces. In desert time, we yearn deeply for God’s comforting presence.
When I was a child, my grandmother, who has taught me the must about faith always referenced Psalm 23 in tough times. She always told me to go to Psalm 23 when I feel the weight of life’s adversity. Her message was clear: read Psalm 23 with faithful confidence that God will see you through. Most recently, I called her crying—telling her how hard everything is. She listened patiently. Then she quite forcibly responded, “What have I always told you?! Read Psalm 23! This time, when you read it, know that everything is in God’s time, not your time!” I did exactly as she instructed. I read Psalm 23 with new eyes and came out with this lesson: it is God that allows us to go through the roughest times of our lives to prepare us for the best that He is paving the way for and that is surely to come. I saw this so clearly in these words of Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters; He restores my soul…
Even though I walk through the darkest valley
I fear no evil
For you are with me
Your rod and your staff
They comfort me…
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.
Gracious God, strengthen and keep us in your most amazing grace through desert times. Help us to this Lenten season to trust you with faithful confidence through prayer and time with and reflection upon scripture as you prepare an abundant for harvest us. In Jesus name, Amen.