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Waiting in the wilderness

As we progress through Lent, anticipating the joy of Easter Sunday, Jane Clamp reflects on those wilderness experiences we sometimes undergo.

When I was a young girl, Saturday mornings were spent in the company of my best friend, Amanda, at the local cinema. We’d hand over our single coin (telling you which one would divulge my age more than I’d like!) and in return have three hours of entertainment – and our mums would have three hours of peace.
Everlasting Toffee StripEven more than we enjoyed the films, however, were the sweets. For another, different, single coin, we could choose from a mountain of confectionary, including chocolate, crisps and bubble gum. My favourite was the Everlasting Toffee Strip which, if I was careful, could see me through most of the screening.
Perhaps talk of sweets and treats is somewhat painful during this season of Lent. I’m conscious that some of my readers may well have given these things up and might be finding the deprivation tough. It’s not easy going through difficult times, whether self-imposed or inflicted against our will. We struggle enough when we know how long it’s going to last – in this case, forty days – but what about when we can’t see the end?
Wilderness times in my life have often been like that. The path ahead seems veiled in mist, my mind is mush, my body is hurting, and God is… well, where is He? I think that this is often the factor that tips ‘difficulty’ into ‘overwhelm.’ We cling to the Scriptures: didn’t God say He would never leave us or forsake us? But still we can feel we are in this on our own.
I’m not going to offer glib answers, or even well-reasoned theological ones. Life is tough sometimes and the light at the end of the tunnel can seem too remote or faint for comfort. All I know is what I have personally experienced: that in hindsight I can see that God wasn’t absent at all. He was waiting in the wings, unseen, but poised for action and just when I needed Him, He stepped forward and took my hand.
It is said of Jesus that ‘for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.’ Suffering may be for a season – the restrictions of Lent included – but there is everlasting joy to come. And, unlike Everlasting Toffee Strip, it really will last for eternity.

The wilderness image is by Pete Linforth from

Jane Clamp author 640CFJane Clamp is the author of Too Soon, a devotional on the subject of miscarriage, published by SPCK in August 2018. A member of the Association of Christian Writers, she writes for local and national radio. In her spare time she is an interior designer and musician.

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