Desert Experience

On a trip to the Holy Land, we ventured one day in the desert of Egypt. For hours there was nothing to see except sand, stones and cactus. The mountains were barren and there were a few trees. Our tour guide explained that at night it gets very cold and during the daytime, it is very warm. No food, no water, and whatever animals you might see, could be very dangerous.

When Jesus stayed in the desert for forty days, three things we remember:

  1. Deserts remind us of our nothingness. Surely our money is nothing in the desert. Our titles, our degrees, our fame, our power is nothing in the desert. The desert strips us of all the trappings of the world.
  2. Deserts remind us that all material things have limits. When there is nothing we can hold on, when our material securities are gone, it is only what is in the heart that matters. Surely this is the time to listen to the voice in our hearts, which is God.
  3. Deserts remind us that death is just around the corner. One of the things about the desert is that it can be very dangerous, especially at night when all the wild animals come out looking for food. Hence, death becomes a reality in the desert.

In the bible, so many holy people went through the desert. Moses spent 40 years in the desert, David hid from Saul in the desert before he became king, and John the Baptist lived in the desert. In the Gospel, Jesus stayed in the desert for 40 days.

As we enter Holy Week, let us remember:

  • We have our desert experiences in life: When we deal with sickness, financial difficulties, relationship problems, court case, etc. These are desert experiences because whatever we have is useless and there are seemingly no solutions to all of these.
  • The number 40 is a number in the bible that always means purification. In rained for 40 days during the time of Noah, the Jews before the promised land were being purified for 40 years in the desert and Jesus stayed for 40 days in the desert. This is a moment of purification (paglilinis). 
  • Everything has a reason and a purpose. Moses, Samuel, John the Baptist and Jesus went through desert experiences but this was only because God was preparing them for a bigger mission. Hence, always be hopeful in all our desert experiences in life.

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