I live in an actual desert.
Tucked in a far corner of Southern California, this town sprang up over 100 years ago from the need for a railroad stop between major cities. I moved here after I got married. I had just spent a summer on the East Coast with high temps and humidity, so I found that the dry heat might be at least a little more bearable than being hot and humid. And it has been, but then the worst days of summer at 120 plus degrees arrive. They make me feel like I will always be hot, that I will never get to go outside again, and that I cannot take another day of this. Being hot brings out the dramatic in me. Even with cooler temperatures in the forecast, it is hard to live like any relief is on the way.
Contrast that to our winter. Tourists flock to our town. There’s very little rain. There’s no snow at all. With temperatures in the moderate 70s, we can take long walks, play a round of golf, and even sometimes go swimming. It is a beautiful place to live. Yet it’s hard to even imagine that during the worst days of summer.
When I am going through trials, I often feel like I am living those dog days of summer – the hottest and most difficult days of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. My feelings stretch to the heights of hyperbole and I am certain that I will never experience happiness again. The rest of my life is bound to be just as bad as I feel at that very moment. But neither my feelings about the temperature or my trials are true.
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 ESV
Just as every day out here in the desert is not 120 degrees, my trials will not always be with me. Most of the time, our trials are not lifelong. But some of them are. Even then, we can take the ultimate long-term view of eternity! God uses these trials beyond what we can see, for eternal purposes. I have to remember that when my trials feel as crushing as the extreme heat of the desert.
And even with the view of eternity, God does give us moments of relief, encouragement, and hope during those trials. Psalm 34:17-18 NASB reads, ‘The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Just like the cool breeze that may spring up on a hot day, the Lord is gracious and refreshes us. Sometimes it is from His Word. Other times it is kindness from a fellow Christian or even a complete stranger. I am thankful for those reminders.
Lord, thank you for being with us always. We pray that we would remember You and Your promises during the toughest days and nights. Thank you for loving us! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.