Devotion: Allow God To Lead You Out of the Desert When Illness Makes You Want to Give Up

“But He brought His people out like a flock; He led them like sheep through the desert.” (Psalm 78:52)

I have made a number of drives over to Phoenix, from San Diego. It is dry and hot, yet before you reach the desert you go over mountains. I always think about the settlers who came through these difficult paths to reach San Diego and eventually settle there. How many horses were injured? How many wheels on covered wagon broken? How many people buried those they loved along that trail?

But even more interesting to me is the question, did those who built a homestead out in the desert ever regret that they stopped? “Why didn’t you keep going?” I want to ask. “Did you send out a scout and he never returned? Did you begin to believe the Pacific Ocean didn’t exist or was months away by foot?”

How many families had to make the difficult choice between stopping and being assured they would have food and shelter, versus continuing on, not knowing what lay over those hills. More hills, famine, or sickness? Who made it to the ocean and, though their bodies ached and even suffered some permanent disabilities, they sat by the ocean and were in awe about God’s creation of the sea?

Living a life full of chronic illness we face daily struggles, infections, side effects, and life-risking choices more frequently than most people. When we hit that desert in our life, it is tempting to just sit down and say, “Lord, I can’t go another step. I am done.”

Rather than giving up, however, give in. Give in to accepting the strength God offers when your own is completely depleted. If you sit down in the desert and just give up, you will surely never feel the ocean breeze, see the power of the Lord in those waves. Keep on going until you reach the place where you can sit down and say, “Thank You, Lord. We made it. I have reached a place of joy despite the ache of my bones.”

Whenever I am feeling weak, tired, and wondering where God is in it all, I go to the ocean. Fortunately, I have always lived within an hour of the Pacific Ocean. Even in my earliest days of being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I remember feeling pulled to the shores to talk to the Lord about my future.

Don’t give up and live in the desert of life. Instead, give in and accept Jesus’ hand as He pulls you to the seashore.

Prayer: Lord, it is so hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other most days and I know I cannot do it on my own. Help me when I feel like giving up. When I am tempted to just give in and cancel all my plans and live in isolation, don’t allow me to get stuck here. Amen.

About the Author:
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and she lives in San Diego with her husband and son. She is gradually learning how to balance motherhood, family, illness, and ministry, but she still knows it will be a lifetime lesson. You can see the books she has written, including, Why Can’t I Make People Understand? at the Rest Ministries shop.

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Have you ever felt like just sitting down in the desert and say, “I give up! I cannot go another step. This will have to do”? When have you made the choice to grab Jesus’ hand and have Him pull you to His warmth, leading you to His seashore?

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5 Responses to Devotion: Allow God To Lead You Out of the Desert When Illness Makes You Want to Give Up

  1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    Your devotions speak so deeply to me in my journey. Love your images & ability to explain in a way that makes sense to me. Lotsoluv Kerryn

  2. Lisa, I’ve had the thought of quitting many times lately. But, instead of doing that I’m asking the Lord for ways to travel more lightly, choose to let some things go and focus on specific God-given priorities. My problem is that I have too many things I want to do or feel responsible to do. But if God doesn’t provide the strength, time, etc. for all these things, I must be choosing some of these things by myself and not according to His will.

    It is a struggle, but I.m still hoping and trusting that these things will be resolved and I’ll be doing what He wants to do through me. And right now, I’m convinced I must go to bed.

    Thanks hon.

  3. thank you Lisa! I’m looking forward to a desert rest coming up soon – whilst looking towards the unknown coast with excited anticipation. Sometimes we need a desert oasis retreat to refresh ourselves – but fight the temptation to make a permanent stop!
    Two years ago it was tempting to give up but I reluctantly returned to my work here in Ethiopia. I’m so glad I persevered in that journey. With God’s help I’ve made some impacts I would never have otherwise made.

  4. Lisa, I love what you said about not giving up, but to “give in.” Thank you…that was so needed. So thankful for this place where we are made aware daily that we are not alone on this journey.

    Gentle hugs,


  5. What a wonderfully written peace Lisa! I am feeling like that today. I haven’t been sleeping well which has hot me in a flare. There are so many things I want to do. I shed up asking myself what CAN I do today? I can get in bed with my toy poodle by my side. I can pray for people, I can listen to uplifting music, and I can dream of a better day.

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