They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the desert?”  (Psalm 78:19)

It’s a question that I have definitely asked at times.  And I think it’s an interesting one.  Obviously, the answer is yes.  God can do anything.  But do we actually believe this? 

I think the wilderness is a difficult place to be for a number of reasons.  For one, food and water can be scarce.  For another, the elements can be brutal.  Blinding sandstorms.  Blistering heat during the day.  Severe cold at night.  But I think that the most difficult part of dwelling in the desert has got to be the overwhelming sense of isolation one feels.  For miles around, there may be no other sign of life.  And you wonder, “How can I ever survive this?” 

But the answer to the original question is yes. 

God can spread a table in the desert.  He can bring forth water from a rock and bread from heaven.  He can feed and water a weary soul when there is nothing but sand dunes for miles around. 

And I think sometimes that’s why we end up in the desert in the first place. 

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.  (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)

Man does not live on bread alone.  God caused you to hunger to teach you that. 

And God fed you with manna so you would know that everything comes from Him (James 1:17).  And so you would know that what you think you’re hungry for will really never satisfy.

When we find ourselves in the wilderness, our general propensity is to think about what’s on the other side of it.  What will it be like when we’re in the Promised Land? 

But God’s ways are far higher than ours. 

He turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs; there he brought the hungry to live, and they founded a city where they could settle.  (Psalm 107:35-36)

Sometimes we assume that it will be when God delivers us from the desert that we find the refreshment we’ve been searching for.  It’s in the land of milk and honey we’ve been promised where we will work out our salvation.  Nothing good could happen in the desert.  We’re just passing through on our way to Canaan.

But sometimes God doesn’t bring us out of the desert.  Or at least not as soon as we’d like.  Instead, He gives us what we need right in the middle of the wilderness and tells us to make our home there for awhile. 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t necessarily like that.  I am no wilderness girl.  And a risk taker I am not.  So the concept of having to stick it out in the vast expanse of the desert all alone makes me more than a little uneasy, even if I know there’s a flowing spring outside my door.  And don’t even get me started about who I might run into once I get hungry (Luke 4:1-13).

But God can handle him too.  In fact, I think it gives Him all the more reason to bring out the feast.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  (Psalm 23:5)

God can spread a table in my desert.  And I’m going to make sure I don’t miss it.

Even if there are only chairs for me and Him.