In the desert
There are times when things are going swimmingly...and then there are times when they are not. I notice that fairly often these 'not so well' times correspond to things being taken away from me:
Perhaps my work seems less interesting, and consequently this 'lack' has a knock-on effect on my identity: I become bored or listless.
Perhaps something I have been doing has finished or (even worse) been taken out of my hands by someone else. My resulting frustration is only matched by my sense of failure and loss.
Perhaps a friendship has ended in an argument, or maybe it has just slowly evaporated. And so I am left with a sense of hollowness, anger and disappointment.
These 'loses' take various shapes, but they all result in my diminution, my becoming smaller.
The natural tendency is (I suspect) to interpret these loses as weakness and failure on our part; something we could have avoided if we had been stronger.
However there is a different way to view these moments. These are the 'desert' times; times of stripping-away. They leave us emotionally naked and vulnerable, yearning for protection. And yet perhaps these are the very times when we might come closer to God, when we cast ourselves upon God because there is really nothing else we can do.
It may be that these ‘desert’ times provide for us surprising springs of grace. The weak and lonely times become the times of strength and solitude. A time of loss might just become the moment for growth in God.
“And the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness and he was tempted for forty days ... He was with the wild beasts and the angels looked after him”. (Mark 1 12:13)