lap in the desert

Desert Wanderings: Another Lap in the Desert

Do you have a painful theme in your life that never seems to end?

Have you ever been afraid there will never be a resolution to your pain, no happy ending to that ever-elusive quest for closure? Today my family is taking another lap in the desert of unemployment, and after over twenty years on and off of this theme, (mostly on) I am tired.

Bone tired.

You’d think over time it would get easier, but this time around the track I’ve been struggling to stay “all in” mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Maybe it’s mid-life. Maybe it’s hormones. Maybe it’s navigating volatile circumstances with my kids, juggling a job and maintaining a marriage. I’m not sure, but sometimes life stretches ahead and I can’t see anything besides the heat waves radiating from this desert floor.

So today when I read Revelation 14:12, God pierced the desert haze with some much-needed encouragement:

“This calls for the patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” Revelation 14:12

In context, this passage is calling Christians going through the Great Tribulation to endure throughout the trials of persecution with their faith intact.

Sharpening Our Faith

No matter if it’s the Great Tribulation or our ongoing lap in the desert “tribulations,” God’s call is the same for you and me: To endure today’s trials with our faith intact.

As I contemplated the theme of patient endurance throughout trials, I looked up “tribulation” and here’s what I found: “Unhappiness, pain, or suffering”; “an experience that causes someone to suffer”; “distress or suffering that results from oppression or persecution.” Another definition was “to press, oppress, to rub . . .” Aka: A lap in the desert.

Tribulation comes from the root Latin word, “Tribulum” which was a threshing instrument used in the ancient world (and still in some cultures today), that separated the outside hull of wheat, corn, or barley from the valuable grain inside.

A tribulum was a heavy plank or board made of planks whose underside had iron-like teeth or flint stones, kind of like a cheese grater. This plank would be dragged by oxen over the grain to grind and cut away the hardened outer hull from the edible grain inside.

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Often rocks were added to increase the pressure on the grain stalks, and sometimes the wheels of the cart even had “teeth” on them. It was a rigorous process that required many passes over the same area to break the grain free of its outer hull.

Do any of those descriptions resonate with you like they did with me? “Dragged” “Heavy” “Cut away” “Pressure” Maybe even “Hardened outer hull”?

Interestingly, the tribulum wasn’t used with the tender grains like dill, fennel, and cumin which would have been bruised or destroyed by it. In their case, a rod or staff was used to gently beat or tap them so as not to damage the tender seeds.

The Tender Heart of God

What a great illustration of the tender and personal nature of God as He works with us and cares for each of us according to our temperaments and circumstances.

God uses different methods to achieve the best results in His children, too. Whether it’s the tap of a staff or time under the tribulum, God knows exactly what’s needed and how long it need be applied to release what He’s growing within you and me.

Desert Wanderings: Another Lap in the Desert

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Are you one of those whom God has deemed hardy enough for the threshing floor? Take heart! That long endured lap in the desert with its flint stones and grating teeth is not intended to destroy you, but to lead you to that final liberation from all that oppresses you. Romans 8:18-27

So today, will you persevere no matter how long you’re on the threshing floor, no matter how many laps you’ve taken in the same barren landscape? God is calling you and me to endure so He can lead us to a place of completion, liberation, and full redemption. God calls us to endure trials so He can lead us to a place of completion, liberation, and full redemption. Click To TweetAnd this lap in the desert is just a temporary stage in the process. I Corinthians 1:7-9

What longtime theme are you struggling with today? What helps you to persevere?

Featured image courtesy of Photo by Ryan Cheng.

Comments 8

  1. One of your best, Bethany. Your vivid description of God’s threshing process will stick with me!

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      Thanks! Hopefully it will encourage you to endure the threshing process with confidence in God’s goodness and in His plans for a future of hope. 🙂

  2. Most excellent insight into the spiritual desert by one who’s been there. I’ve seen you endure much…and still you trust God to use the hard paths for good. Modern Heroes of faith.

    1. We all have our long term struggles. It always comes down to trusting and obeying God, one step at a time. I’m so thankful God doesn’t expect us to figure out the whole journey of faith, just the next step. And we can take one step, right? 🙂

  3. This is indeed a vivid picture of how we are refined and separated for God’s purpose. I’m grateful for the precious ladies He has brought in my life to walk with me in these times.

    1. I am thankful that God never leaves us in our desert experience alone. Friends are indeed a sweet gift from God! Thanks so much for sharing. 🙂

  4. Thanks, I needed this. Honestly, been feeling the separating pain of taking the outside and inside apart. Great descriptions.

    1. Thanks, Susan. I know you understand the pain and struggle of the long process towards our ultimate redemption. Today I’m grateful that God is the one who’s going to get me there.

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