Deserting the Desert

deserting the desert

Deserting the desert is the easy way out.

My greatest lessons came where I didn’t want to dwell. Although I’ve never visited a desert, I’ve seen pictures. A desert is a geographical place that receives less than ten inches of rainfall annually.

Sticking closely to the definition, Antarctica is the world’s largest desert, and the second is the Arctic Desert. But we usually associate the desert with heat. According to that definition, the Sahara Desert in Northern Africa would be the largest, covering 3.5 million square miles and stretching from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

While certain wildlife and animals can survive extreme temperatures and sparse rainfall, a wide range of plant and animal life cannot. But what is barren quickly comes to life with just a tiny amount of rain.

I haven’t had much success growing the kind of plants found in deserts. What I think will help them kills them. God created them to live with little water. Although I’ve tried, I usually overwater them, ironically leading to their demise.  I’ve thrown away numerous cacti and aloe plants simply because they did what God created them to do: survive with little.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

~Matthew 4:1 NLT

The Bible references deserts often. Jesus Himself even spent some time in a wilderness where Satan tempted Him for forty days. Interestingly, Matthew claims the Spirit of God led Jesus there.

Deserts are more than geographical. They are emotional, spiritual, financial, and relational. I spend most of my time trying to avoid them when sometimes God wants me there. Occasionally I even put myself in the desert through bad decisions.

When God leads us into the desert, He always has a purpose. We don’t always know what it is, but we trust a reason exists. Don’t fall for the old religious lie that God will explain everything when we get to heaven. I think we just hope he will. I suppose when I get to heaven, I probably won’t care why God led me into the desert—if I even remember the experience at all. For Jesus, God’s purpose was to identify with us in our temptations.

God limited Jesus’ time in the wilderness, and He does ours, too. When the forty days were up, angels ministered to Jesus. God also comforts us when we complete our time in the desert. Just as rain in a desert leads to plants blooming and animals scurrying, God refreshes us when our trek through the barren land is over.

My downfall has been trying to desert the desert in the first place. When I do—as painful as the desert experience might be—I miss something God wants to teach me or perfect in me.

Don’t desert the desert. If God has led you there, He has blessings in store.

What are some lessons you have learned in the desert?

Share some deserts you have encountered and what lessons you learned.

Martin Wiles

Martin is the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and the Directing Editor for He is an author, English teacher, minister, freelance editor, and founder of Love Lines from God ( His most recent book is Don't Just Live...Really Live. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of seven.

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  1. I celebrated a big birthday last week and I think if we live long enough and are honest, we can admit to encountering a few deserts. And like you mentioned here, Martin, they have all taught me something. But I still do not like going there. 🙂 But, I am truly thankful we have a God that helps us grow up.

    1. Me too. Thanks for the encouraging words. Currently, my desert is a broken hip :(((

  2. Thank you.
    The Lord told me many years ago when we learned that, void a miracle, I would never have children biologically. He said, “You are blessed in your barrenness.”
    Soon after, I learned that there are actual places called the “blueberry barrens”—where much fruit is born in barren places, much like the desert.
    I have walked with joy and peace since that day, at least most of the time. 😊

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