Isaiah 51:12a – I, even I, am He who comforts you. (NKJV)
Fifty years ago, I spent eight months in the desert, some twenty miles from Muscat in the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman. We lived in a camp, about sixty of us, single status. How well I remember going for long walks every day after work in the late afternoon. I had established a certain direction in which I would go with noticeable landmarks along the way — a tree here, a rock there — so that I could always find my way back to camp. As I walked, I rarely saw anybody.
A very odd time, I would see some women gathering pieces of firewood under the scrub trees. Sometimes, I would meet a lone traveller riding along on his donkey, going from one village to another, but most days there would be no one. It would be so quiet and so still that a person would almost wonder if he were the only person left in the world.
Recently, we held a worship service at the local Long Term Care Centre, and we talked about Jacob, who was also walking in the desert after having left home. He had cheated his brother out of his birthright, and his mother thought that it would be a good idea if he left home for a while. The story is in Genesis 27.
I can picture Jacob walking through that desert land in the late afternoon. When evening came, he lay down to sleep.
Genesis 28:12-13 – Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: "I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants." (NKJV)
Those were certainly words of comfort for Jacob, alone in the desert.
I mentioned at the service that many of us are walking in the deserts of life, and there were several nods from those in attendance. There are deserts of ill health, deserts of old age, deserts of worry, and deserts of grief and sorrow. Many of us walk in deserts of loneliness, surrounded by people but still lonely. God reassured Jacob that no matter what, he would never be on his own, and He kept His promise. In fact, years later, Jesus repeated His promise for our benefit:
John 1:51b – You shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. (NKJV)
Once again the heavens were opened, and heaven and earth were connected by Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins on a cross, the cross of Calvary, so that we may live. The cross is the great sign that God has kept His promise, the guarantee that in whatever desert we find ourselves, God is with us and comforts us.
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, we pray that You will be with all those who find themselves in the deserts of life. We ask that You will comfort them, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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