Sunday, February 28, 2016

Finding Joy in the Desert

I admit to being a little skeptical about the idea of focusing on joy during Lent. I mean, it's Lent. We're talking barrenness, dryness, penance... Anyway, I still think it's there. There was a time that I thought that the desert was just barren, arid and kind of terrible. However, if you've spent any time there, you realize it has it's own beauty as well. It's just different than what we're used to.

The joy that I found this week was in the first reading on Thursday:

"Thus says the Lord:
Cursed is the who trusts in human beings,
who seeks his strength in flesh,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a barren bush in the desert
that enjoys no change of season,
But stands in a lava waste,
a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose hope is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters
that stretches out its root to the stream:
It fears not the heat when it comes,
its leaves stay green;
In the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit."

There was a little more, but that's the part that really stuck out to me. I have definitely been feeling like the barren bush that has no change of season. Just plodding through the same exhaustion. I recognize myself in that first part. I think in the fatigue, I have gotten to the point that the only way out seemed like finally having the circumstances of my life change. That is definitely putting my trust in human beings, and thus away from the Lord.

The joy that I am finding in Lent is in the mercy. Yep, I'm not doing it right. Yep, I'm all out and can't do it anymore. But that's okay. Notice in the second part, the tree is green in the midst of the drought. It's not about life being easy, it's about knowing the source of Life. It's about not getting those priorities mixed up.

Yes, I have been (and likely will keep on) begging God to be able to share my life. I am not going to lie, I am past the point where I can try to make the best of it. But I am finding joy in the fact that I can't take pride or credit for any good any more because it's obviously all Him. It was before, too, but I can see it so much better now.

The desert can seem barren at first, but it has it's own beauty. Once you've seen it, you can certainly appreciate that life in the midst of the harsh environment. Sometimes the very fact that things are a little more sparse makes the beauty that much more impressive. I admit that though I love the desert, I don't want to live there (either literally or figuratively) but I do want to soak it up while I'm in the midst of it!

(When I wrote the title for this post, I accidentally wrote "Joy in the Dessert", which I actually think is quite easy to find!)


  1. "Sometimes the very fact that things are a little more sparse makes the beauty that much more impressive."

    Wow, I love that line. So much goodness and insight. Thank you for posting that.

    And I agree, Joy in the Dessert sounds great too. :)

  2. Love this perspective! Some great things to ponder here.

  3. So true that beauty is found even in the desert...I love thinking about how deserts burst into life after a hard rain (=suffering). Thanks for this reflection, and praying for you this Lent!

  4. A tree in the midst of the desert. What a beautiful reflection. The desert is sooooooo hard but thankfully the Lord is there even though so often I'm not patient enough to look.