Grace in the Desert

By Published on February 15, 2023

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. Psalm 139:7–10 NLT

Creative Ways to Connect With God

Emma was a terrible sleeper. She would wake us up nearly every night of the week. As a toddler, she would stumble to my bedside around two a.m. and whisper with a lisp, “Mommy, can you pray for me?” That’s cute the first fifteen or twenty times. Sleepily, I suggested that she needed to learn to pray for herself. Don’t judge. She continued to night-wander until she was almost four.

Our next baby, Evan, suffered worse sleep anxiety than Emma. He would tap my shoulder in the middle of the night and whisper-yell, “Mom, I can’t sleep.” For five years, BJ and I felt like we rarely had peaceful rest. During that time, my prayers reflected the desperation of sleep deprivation. As I chugged coffee and held up heavy eyes, I talked and cried with the Lord. He listened and revealed creative ways to connect with him throughout the day. Overwhelming seasons can make spiritual growth seem impossible.

Not God’s Design

Stress is a growing epidemic. Nearly half of women say that they endure fatigue, have headaches, and feel like crying due to stress. Prolonged periods of pressure and anxiety can seem like being lost in a desert. Life can feel dry, bitter, and barren as we desperately search for an oasis. God did not design his children to be desert dwellers. We were made to pass through dry places.

A 40-Year Journey With God

The Israelites found themselves wandering through a dry wasteland. After their freedom from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites should have passed through the Sinai Desert on the way to the promised land. An intended two-week trip ended up a 40-year journey in a region that can exceed 100 degrees. Although they went the long way around, God’s grace didn’t depart from his people.

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Scripture says he led them with a pillar of a cloud during the day and with a pillar of fire at night. People typically picture tall, cylindrical shapes of a cloud and fire. However, pillar in Hebrew can also mean “a platform” or “flat structure.” I believe that the cloud drifted over the Israelites during the day, shading them from the scorching sun. The fire hovered over them at night, warming the desert chill. God also provided for their needs with food that miraculously fell from the sky called manna. He satisfied their thirst with water that flowed from a rock. Scripture says that their shoes never wore out. Like a faithful father to his children, the Lord led his people by the hand. God gives grace to survive and thrive in the desert.

God’s Grace is Sufficient in Dry Seasons

Today, you may feel like you’re sinking in sand dunes. It’s easy to feel distant from God during seasons of drought. Prioritizing purpose can seem impossible when living in survival mode. However, I want you to remember that God’s grace is sufficient in dry seasons. He will protect you from the scorching sun of frustration and the chill of hopelessness. Growing closer to God through the desert will be possible as you follow him.

I encourage you to prioritize prayer as you pass through the land of difficulty. Grace will multiply your time and effort. God’s presence can give you strength that you didn’t know was possible. Spiritual nourishment can fall and flow from unexpected sources. The Lord loves to communicate with his children in innovative ways. Cling to him as he leads you out of places that feel barren and into abundance. God’s covering grace empowers you to grow.

Excerpt from Grace to Grow. Copyright 2022 BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC. Republished with permission.


Kristel Ward is a Bible teacher, speaker, podcast host, and founder of the nonprofit organization Grace to Grow. With a background in public education and pastoral ministry, her biblical wisdom has supported women around the globe and encouraged them to follow Christ. Kristel and her husband live in the Greater Houston area, and have three beautiful and sometimes messy children. Her website is Connect with her on Facebook and TikTok @KristelWardTX.

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