I’ve told my husband that if he ever moves me to Phoenix we’ll have to have a pool. Have you been to Phoenix? It’s hot!
Now I live in Arizona. But not all things are equal in Arizona. Especially the temperatures.
I live in the southeastern tip of Arizona, less than 50 curvy miles from the Mexican border. And while you’d think it would get hotter the further south you travel, it’s just not so in Arizona. Because my town of Sierra Vista is situated 4,500 feet above sea level, we enjoy much cooler temperatures than Tucson or Phoenix, which are both north of us. Phoenix and Tucson are situated in a basin or valley, where the heat pools and intensifies. So on any given day the temperature in my backyard is 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the temperatures in Tucson and a whopping 10 to 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix.
As I write this post, It’s sunny and 65° outside my door, while it’s 75° in Tucson and 78° in Phoenix. But more important, later this summer it will rarely hit 100 degrees in the middle of the day here in the high desert, but it can still be a smoldering 105° at midnight in Phoenix. I kid you not.
Thus, my husband has been warned that if he ever gets an itching to move us to Phoenix, he’ll need to provide me a pool.
All kidding and complaining and comparing aside, when life heats up we just need the promise of a little relief. We can take the heat…for a little while, but then we need to catch a cool breeze and be suitably refreshed so we can press on.
When my heart hurt from a personal loss and major life adjustment a few years ago, I felt the heat. In fact, a major source of refreshment that I had previously enjoyed just sort of dried up, if you will. I felt isolated and lonely. I felt like I was living in a strange new land, and just when I would get my bearings the heat would intensify and I’d lose my way again.
But even in the heat of the hardest days, I knew God had not forsaken or forgotten me. In fact, I knew He had me right where He wanted me. Yes, He had taken me into a desert, but He had me in it for a purpose. And I trusted Him enough to know that He was working all things together for my good.
Perhaps you find yourself in a desert of the soul today. If you are lonely or pressed upon or sad or wounded, this difficult season may seem unrelenting and unbearable.
In Judges 1:11-15, a young woman named Achsah found herself living in a desert land by no choice of her own. The little vignette of her life provided in this short paragraph is one we could easily pass over. In fact, perhaps “passed over” perfectly describes how she felt as she moved with her new husband to the “South country” of the Promised Land. This was a desert land, less fertile than the homesteads others were receiving.
Achsah inventoried her circumstances and found them to be less than desirable. She didn’t pitch a fit and demand to move to a better area. But she did ask her father Caleb to provide what was necessary in order to survive the situation she was in.
She said to him, ‘Give me a blessing, since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.’ So Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.” – Judges 1:15
Achsah didn’t beg to be removed from the desert, but she did ask her father to provide a stream in the desert. She asked the one who loved her to provide the necessary nourishment and refreshment so she could live where he had put her.
I learned about Achsah’s story from Margeret Feinberg’s Bible study, Fight Back with Joy. I highly recommend this study, which is based on a beautiful mix of large doses of scripture and the lessons Margaret learned from her own battle with breast cancer. One of the tactics Margaret advocates for fighting life’s battles with joy includes, “Pray for springs in the desert.” She based that tactic on Achsah’s bold plea for Caleb to provide her with a spring of water along with the desert land she had been sent to.
Achsah asked for her pool…and she got two. Caleb gave her both the upper springs and the lower springs. He gave her what she needed to thrive even while living in a desert land.
God gave me what I needed to survive and even thrive in my desert, too. He gave me sweet and satisfying conversations with my husband, new and deepened friendships with several lovely women, ministry opportunities that kept me away from my pity parties, adventures in new places where I made fresh memories and amazing hours spent alone in His tender presence. He graciously gave me what He knew I needed…and then He gave me more. Margaret would say He gave me joy bombs–those beautiful gifts from God that remind me that He loves me, He’s at work on my behalf and He’s with me. Indeed, I lived in the desert, but there were springs. I lived in the heat, but there was still joy.
Friend, if you have moved to Phoenix…or God has taken you to a desert, you can still have joy, too. Trust that He has you there for a reason…and probably just for a season. I know for me, God showed me that I had dug a broken cistern in my land of blessing and I had mistakenly grown dependent on it for my refreshment. He took me to a desert land so that I would learn once again to drink only from the Fountain of Living Water. But He provided streams in that desert. He will do the same for you.
Ask Him. Surrender to Him, recognizing that He is working all things together for your good. But then ask Him to graciously provide all that you need to live there, too.
And for pity’s sake, if you ever move to Phoenix, ask for a pool!
This devotional is part of a series called Healing Words. If you’d like to read other words that bring healing to your wounded heart, click on the image below.
If your heart has been wounded and you are struggling to find healing, I’d like to suggest you try my Bible study, Joseph – Keeping a Soft Heart in a Hard Place. You’ll find more information here.