Derik fled his home country of Honduras because of violence. He was kidnapped as he traveled through the desert, and he escaped only to find himself lost and alone for ten days on limited food and water. Can you imagine being in his situation—alone, lost, disoriented, afraid, and knowing that death is a real possibility? Derik encountered the wilderness in a very real way, and yet he would tell you that he never lost hope. Why? “God never leaves God’s children alone.”
Psalm 107 is a psalm of thanksgiving that sings out in gratitude to God for delivering God’s people from trouble. The Israelites have encountered the wilderness; they have experienced exile; they have been lost and separated. However, the Israelites have also experienced God’s saving them from their trouble. It is from personal experience that the psalmist reminds us of key truths about God’s love—it endures and it gathers us in.
I can hear the words of the psalmist echoing in Derik’s story. To say that God never leaves us alone in the wilderness is another way of saying that God’s love endures. The Psalms tell us about God through the lens of how others have experienced God at work. Both the psalmist and Derik speak to the experience that God’s love endures. And if we think about it, we realize that we too have experienced God’s enduring love.
We all encounter the wilderness in different ways and at different times. When our path is difficult and hope seems lost, we find courage in a faith that assures us that God’s love endures, sustains us, and gathers us in. As we go through our own wilderness journey, our experiences of God’s steadfast love are our source of strength.
God, we give you thanks for your steadfast love which endures forever. Help us to experience and proclaim this in our own lives as we encounter the wilderness before us. Amen.
Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble by our words and actions. It’s okay to admit it. It happens to all of us. The Israelites experienced this when their constant grumbling provoked God’s wrath in Numbers 21. Yet even in this story, God provides the means of salvation. The psalmist echoes the refrain that when we put ourselves in bad positions, we may cry out to the Lord for deliverance. We read in Ephesians that all of us were living in disobedience to God, but God has done all the work of reconciliation by grace given through Christ Jesus. John ties all this together, gesturing to the story in Numbers 21 to teach us that Christ is the means of restoration and salvation for all who believe in him.
Read Numbers 21:4-9. When do you complain to God? Does your complaining ever interfere with your sense of God’s presence with you?
Read Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22. What practice helps you to thank God each day for God’s steadfast love?
Read Ephesians 2:1-10. How does your sense of God’s salvation and grace move you to do good works?
Read John 3:14-21. How do you act as a creature of light in the world? What are your “deeds that have been done in God”?
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