“Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid, but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And he brought them to his holy land, to the mountain which his right hand had won.” (Psalm 78:52-54 ESV)
With the presence of COVID-19 permeating our lives, these days of isolation, social distancing, and constant reports on the virus’s impact can feel like a wilderness. We’re in strange, unfamiliar territory on an uncharted path toward an undetermined destination.
But even though there are so many unknowns as we deal with the effects of COVID-19, facing the wilderness is not a new experience for God’s people. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years (Exodus 16:3). Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for His forty-day fast (Matthew 4:1). The angel of the Lord sought out Hagar and found her by a spring in the wilderness (Genesis 16:7). David kept watch over his sheep in the wilderness as a young boy (1 Samuel 17:28), and later on, he was chased through the wilderness by King Saul (1 Samuel 23:14). David’s wilderness experiences permeate the themes of many of his Psalms.
The list goes on and on, not only in the Bible, but also throughout history. Wilderness is a common experience of God’s people—something that some people have even intentionally pursued as a way of encountering God more deeply. So even though we are navigating the unknown territory of this COVID-19 wilderness, there are still certain things we can count on. Asaph, the author of Psalm 78, spells out a few of them:
Our God watches over us like a tender shepherd so we can trust Him to lead and guide us through this wilderness.
There’s no need for us to fear because He says He leads us through this wilderness in safety.
In the process, the spiritual forces of darkness—our enemies that are trying to overwhelm us—will themselves be overwhelmed.
He will bring us out of the wilderness and into His “holy land”—a unique, set-apart place that His own right hand has purchased and won for each of us.
That new “holy land” might include things like a deeper appreciation for family and friends, a different career, a fresh outlook on our priorities, or a level of intimacy with the Lord that we never would have experienced if He hadn’t walked through this wilderness with us. But wherever and however He leads us, we can rest securely in His guidance and His presence.
Thank you, Good Shepherd, that You are guiding me through this COVID-19 wilderness. Please, help me to recognize Your presence as You lead me. Help me trust You to bring me through safely into the new place You have for me. Amen.
My Good Shepherd is leading me through this unknown wilderness.
~ Kathryn Kircher