Praise in the Desert
(This post was written by Matt Grimes, Middle School Ministry Pastor)
It has finally happened, our little baby girl, Elin has arrived, and we are very proud parents. We could not ask God for a more healthy and beautiful baby. She already has both of us wrapped around her finger. The journey however, has not been easy. The day after our daughter was born, my wife still had no feeling in her legs and feet leaving her unable to walk. Immediately following one of the most joyous days in our lives, we faced the absolute most difficult day ever. Halfway through the day the doctors arrived and prepped my wife for an MRI to determine if she had sustained any permanent damage that would leave her paralyzed for the rest of her life. Words cannot describe the emotions we felt in that moment; emotions that I never care to feel again in my life. Right before they took my wife back, they asked me to step across the street from the hospital to her OBGYN’s office to ask him a quick question. I had stayed strong for my wife all day, not letting her see my fear or concern. All I remember was collapsing when I walked in his office…I completely lost it in the middle of his waiting room. As his he and his staff immediately came to my side all I could think about was my wife who might never be able to walk again. I remember her doctor coming out, who had a full load that day, and just sitting with me and talking about what we were going through. He gave me a devotional called “Streams in the Desert”, which was a devotional he has done every day while his wife battled cancer, and every day since she lost her battle with cancer. He asked me to read it each day, and encouraged me to cling tight to God, and that everything would be okay.
The results of the MRI came back negative for any permanent damage; however something had damaged my wife’s S1, S2, and L5 nerves, making it impossible to walk. The diagnosis was that she would make a full recovery, but it would take a long time to be back at 100%. Each day she makes slow progress. Today she can walk with the help of a brace, and is at 90% full recovery in her left foot, and about 65% full recovery in her right foot. There are days that it feels like nothing has changed, and we feel as though nothing will get better. We have friends, who were due the same time we were, and we see them back to normal, and I can’t say with integrity that something inside me does not get angry a little because that is not us. This morning I was reading, as I promised her doctor, in “Streams in the Desert”, and was blown away by what God spoke to me through the devotion for today. Listen to these words for today’s devotional:
“Spring up, O well! Sing about it.” Numbers 21:17. “This was a strange song and a strange well. The children of Israel had been traveling over the desert’s barren sands, and they were desperate for water, but there was none in sight. Then God spoke to Moses and said, “Gather the people together and I will give them water. (verse 16) The people then gathered around with their rods. As they began to dig deeply into the burning sand, they sang, “Spring up, O Well! Sing About it.” Soon a gurgling sound was heard, and suddenly a rush of water appeared, filling the well and running along the ground. As they had dug the well in the desert, they had tapped the stream that ran below and that had been unseen for a very long time. What a beautiful picture this is! And it describes for us the river of blessings that flows through our lives. If only we will respond with faith and praise, we will find our needs supplied even in the most barren desert.
Again, how did the children of Israel reach the water of this well? It was through praise. While standing on the burning sand and digging the well with their staff of promise, they sang a praise song of faith.
Our praise will bring forth “water…in the wilderness and streams in the desert” (Isaiah 35:6), while complaining will only bring judgment. Even prayer by itself may fail to reach the fountain of blessings.
Nothing pleases the Lord as much as praise. There is no greater evidence of faith than the virtue of genuine thanksgiving. Are you praising God enough” Are you thanking Him for the countless blessings He has bestowed on you? Are you boldly praising Him even for the trials in your life, which are actually blessings in disguise? And have you learned to praise Him in advance for answers yet to come?
So for me, I am learning to praise God, even when I don’t have the answer that I want to have. Even when I have to patiently wait on the long road to recovery, God deserves and desires my praise. For you, maybe you are struggling and in the desert with your kids, or in your marriage, and you are waiting for a well to explode soon and hope to be seen on the horizon. Remember, our praise can be the catalyst for God to move in gigantic ways. Don’t let your circumstances blind you to the power and reality of who God is. Get your praise on, and start praising God for all He has been up to. If you are like me, you will slowly start to see all the blessings you have over looked, but are so thankful that God provided. Don’t forget to praise, while you are walking in the desert…it is there where you faith is proved.