Summary: Getting through dry times, is not done by the use of your wits, your education, your determination, or the power of positive thinking. Getting through dry times requires a supernatural solution.
So, I get a call late one night, it is the sister of a good friend of mine – she never calls. There is a long pause after I answer. Then a little chit chat, then quickly comes the news: A childhood friend of mine, her sister, has just died of lung failure, she was only 38. I’m floored. I’m not sure what to say to this woman.
Another friend, he arrives in the afternoon at his restaurant just to see how things are going for the day. No one is working, and not a soul is in the place. How strange. His manager takes him aside to tell him that his partner has left the country with all of their assets, everything. In an instant, he faces bankruptcy.
I arrive at the hospital to congratulate a young couple on the birth of their little baby boy. As I enter the room, I find out their little boy, this seemingly perfect little boy, has a rare muscular disorder and only has hours to live.
All these people are very real. All these people, are people who are following God. They are people who have given their lives over to God and have really tried hard to do the right thing, be the right kind of person…..And instead of turning left and going into the promise land, God has had them turn right and now they find themselves out in the desert.
They are numb about what has happened, they are angry about what has happened, they are let down by how things have turned out, or maybe they are at a loss of how they should feel.
There are times in our lives where we find ourselves standing out in a dry spiritual time. Sometimes it is a dramatic event like I mentioned to throw us out in the desert, sometimes things just piles up, sometimes we just turn around and find ourselves feeling distant from God, thirsty or more, but no matter what we do, we are in a dry spiritual time of life.
Here in our passage, we find the Hebrew people in such a situation. They are about two and a half months into their journey from Egypt at this point in chapter 16, and it dawns on the Hebrews that this is NOT what they had agreed to. They are stuck in a place they never wanted to be in and they are not happy about it. Now, not only is there no easy way out of this dry harsh land, but they are also out of supplies, they have depleted all the food they took from Egypt.
We see in verses 2-3 that everyone complains, and you know what, their complaints are right on the money. After crossing the Red Sea the Hebrews could have taken a left turn and made it to the Promise Land in about three days, but God leads them to turn right into a land that is dry and harsh, a difficult place to live in. God leads them to a land that, quite frankly, could not possibly support such a large number of people. God, He leads the Hebrews out to certain death. (v3) “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” That may sound melodramatic, but it really is the truth….as they remember it. It is very true that they are now in a situation where they are completely helpless. Understand that there is no physical way that this large number of people can survive out in the desert, their situation is hopeless, they are out of luck – why would God do this to them? Why would God lead them into the desert instead of into a land of blessing? We’ll get to that in a bit, but first understand that though the situation the Hebrews are in at the moment is very bad, their view of the past is not accurate.
A few months before they were slaves living in poverty. They were oppressed, ignorant, uneducated, treated worse than livestock and could only look forward to a demeaning and demoralizing life. But what they remember is the great food they had in Egypt. Really, what they are saying here is that life might have been hard in Egypt, but at least they weren’t facing starvation. But you know, they cried out to God, and God answered. They are now in God’s hands, not the hands of the Egyptians, and that at the moment means being in the desert with no humanly possible way for things to work out. This my friends, as hard as it is to hear, is true for us too. If you are in a desert, if you are in a dry time, my guess is that it is not a mistake, God has lead you there.