Five years ago, my husband and I brought our firstborn home from the hospital. Like many moms, I soon faced the continual challenge of getting our son to sleep. The advice to “sleep when the baby sleeps” didn’t work when he slept for only random 30-minute stretches during the day and often required two hours to get back to sleep after feeding at night.
At the 6-month, 12-month, and 2-year milestones, my bitterness grew. Like an infuriating game of whack-a-mole, when we saw progress in one area of sleep, another area would pop up. Then, right when things seemed to get better, I became pregnant with my second child, and we started all over again.
I often thought, “What good could possibly come out of having to stay in a situation that I desperately want to move out of?”
When I brought these honest feelings to God, He brought me to the story of Exodus.
Like the Israelites, I wandered in my own desert. I desperately wanted to move on and take hold of the Promised Land. I was anxious to know how and when I would be delivered. I oscillated between taking matters into my own hands and realizing (yet again) that I wasn’t in control.
Yet the more I read, I moved from identifying with the Israelites to being annoyed by them. They constantly forgot God’s goodness and provision, often moments after He parted waters or rained bread from heaven! They complained. They continually lost hope and turned from Him.
But then I began to wonder, “What if God wasn’t punishing the Israelites by making them wander in the wilderness as much as He was preparing their hearts for the Promised Land?”
That’s when I saw the parallel: Like the Israelites, I too was making the mistake of viewing deliverance alone as proof of God’s love. And when deliverance didn’t come as quickly as I liked, I felt cheated, abandoned, and tempted to complain the longer He kept me in the wilderness.
Convicted of repeating the same sin that annoyed me as I read their story, I began to focus less on my deliverance and more on discovering the purpose, provision, and goodness of God as I waited. I looked for evidences of His mercy and love toward me, even if it was only providing me with a second (or third!) cup of coffee on a day I needed more energy.
God has finally let me enter the Promised Land of uninterrupted sleep. With even more clarity, I can see how He masterfully used that period of waiting to produce a deeper dependence on His word and promises for me. He uncovered layer upon layer of deep and hidden desires for self-control that would ultimately rob me of joy in motherhood had He not exposed it right away. He produced in me an empathy for new moms as more friends joined me on this journey.
So, take heart, sister. God always uses desert times to draw us near, prepare our hearts, and produce joy and purpose in our deliverance that is well worth the wait.
~ ~ ~
About the Author: Lisa Braziel is a working mom with two kids who is in constant need of more coffee and even more of God’s grace. You can follow her writings at www.graceinthegravel.com and on Instagram at @GraceInTheGravel where she shares how she’s practically learning to follow Jesus in everyday life.