BY DOUG BRADBURY, CO-FOUNDER
It is hard to imagine what weighed heavy on our hearts just three weeks ago. With 24/7 updates of pandemic headlines, normalcy seems a distant past. Trying to make sense of “these days” during this time of Lent (remember that?!) might offer some perspective.
Lent represents that time prior to Resurrection Day (Easter) during which we give up donuts, coffee, soft drinks, or social media as a way to prepare ourselves for the hope and joy of the empty tomb. Biblically speaking, it symbolizes the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness in which he was tempted and tested by Satan. It was the place where we see a glimpse of his character and dependency on God’s provision and care.
The wilderness played a significant role in the “who’s who” of the Bible. In addition to Jesus, we learn that Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and the nation of Israel are a few of those whose wilderness experience was key in shaping their life narrative. It became an experience that prepared them for the long life’s journey ahead. In Deuteronomy 8:2, we read that Israel was led through the wilderness for 40 years to “humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart…”
Note also that God remained faithful to Israel throughout those 40 years, providing for their needs with food (manna) and physical care (shoes did not wear out). The wilderness was a place where the testing came about through dread, scarcity, uncertainty, and anxiety; it is the place where God’s people looked for assurance and comfort.
Perhaps the wilderness serves also as a metaphor for us today?
Confronted with financial uncertainty, lack of job security, and anxiety about the coronavirus, we also are finding a way through the desert. At times we respond to our fears by hoarding food, toilet paper, and resources rather than being generous and considerate with God’s faithful provisions. Perhaps we can “see what is in our own hearts” as we are pressed by these trying days. Who do we turn to for hope? Where do we find our comfort?
Over the last few days, we have heard from our partners in Haiti. These brothers and sisters live in a place where food scarcity has been ongoing for decades prior to COVID-19, and they do not have refrigeration to store away foods or even the resources to put away a few weeks’ worth of supplies. They have lived their entire lives in a wilderness in which they look to their heavenly Father to provide for their daily needs.
Jeanne Touloute sent a message that she is confident in God’s plan for her family and the people of Haiti. Lenord and Watlin sent messages reaching out and letting us know that they are praying for the people in the United States. Our friends in Haiti lend us hope to not be consumed by the challenges of this wilderness, but to look to our Father and find rest in His care.
May you find courage from our brothers and sisters in Haiti during this time. May we walk in this wilderness with open hearts and generous spirits, because we know the promise of the empty tomb is coming around the corner.
Please join us in praying and giving so that life-giving opportunities might continue to be made in the communities in which we serve. May you find a secure confidence and an open-heartedness during this wilderness season.