If we look back over our lives, we all can see times when we learned from the hard times. But it's hard to feel like anything positive can come from the hard times we are currently experiencing.
Three questions help. They don't lift the burden, but they move us toward learning, even toward appreciation for the hard times.
The first one is the most challenging.
Do I believe I'm entitled to God's provision?
A sense of entitlement isn't anything new. It doesn't belong to a certain generation or political persuasion. A sense of entitlement is at least as old as the Exodus.
In Exodus 17, the people of Israel, recently redeemed by God from slavery and traveling through a wilderness, start acting entitled. They "test the Lord" (Exodus 17:2) by challenging him and demanding what they want, when they want, the way they want it.
Seth Godin asks why would we ever choose entitlement over it's opposite, gratitude. Entitlement blinds us to what's possible. Gratitude moves us to possibilities, to action, to grater happiness. ("Entitlement is Optional")
Making demands of God, rather than coming humbly and asking and waiting, makes us miserable and it's destructive.
Do I believe God is good?
This is the most important question we can ask when we're in a "wilderness" experience because without a good God, there is no hope.
What you're going through may be horrific, but God went through horrific for us on the cross. He did that for you. He is good.
The Israelites quickly forgot how good God is. We forget, too.
The third question is the most comforting, if we know the answer.
Do I believe God is with me?
Paul reflects on that day recorded in Exodus 17, when God told Moses to draw water from a rock by striking it. He explains that the rock was Christ. Christ was there on that day when they thirsted.
Moses struck the rock instead of the people. God struck Christ--he struck himself--instead of you and me on the cross.
God was there. He is here. He is with you.
For a powerful story of hope rising from the wilderness, go 27 minutes into the sermon below or link here to watch it.