A Letter from the Wilderness
“I will take my children into the wilderness, and there I will speak tenderly to them.
I will restore their fruitfulness and turn their valley of trouble into a door of hope.
(Hosea 2:14-15a)

Typically I have two days off a week, Mondays and Saturdays. However, I wasn’t able to have a day off for about one and a half months prior to my vacation. It was not because we had more work than usual, but because most District and Conference events were held on Mondays or Saturdays. My body seemed to be exhausted and pushed me to rest. Therefore, I planned a vacation and asked one of my friends where a good place to go was, explaining that I would like to stay alone for God-centered time with prayer and meditation. She introduced me to a prayer cabin in the “Wilderness Fellowship Retreat Center.” As soon as I heard about it, I visited there to look around. Wow, it was the exactly what I was looking for. I reserved a prayer cabin for my vacation. It was close and it was a calm and peaceful place, where I could rest, do meditation, and pray with a God-centered mind.

When I entered the prayer cabin, there was a welcome card on the table with two scripture verses, saying, “Welcome Jenny to the Besel Cabin: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song” (Psalm 28:7). “I will take my children into the wilderness, and there I will speak tenderly to them. I will restore their fruitfulness and turn their valley of trouble into a door of hope” (Hosea 2:14-15a). As soon as I saw them, I felt that God had led me to this place to rest in His arms. Furthermore, I was sure God would restore my body, soul, and spirit. I had a blessed enough time resting.

I love the name “Wilderness Fellowship Retreat Center.” The word “Wilderness” reminds me of many things. The wilderness was where the Israelites would pass through to get to the Promised Land after their exodus from Egypt. The Israelites suffered for 40 years in the wilderness. Many died in the wilderness, who couldn’t pass over the trials and temptations. But a few of them got to the Promised Land after 40 years. The wilderness was the place many people lost their lives because of temptation. Therefore, many people misunderstand the wilderness as forsaken lands and a place of trial. In addition, the wilderness was where Satan tempted Jesus before he began public ministry. Jesus spent forty days and nights in the wilderness with Satan’s temptation after his baptism. So, people used to say that the wilderness is a parable of our lives in the world, which are filled with temptation, suffering, difficulties, and conflicts.

On the other hand, the wilderness was where God was present with his people, fighting in wars for them, feeding them with meat and manna, and providing them water from the rock, even protecting them with the pillar of fire during the nights and with clouds during the days. The wilderness was where God’s love and care for his people existed. If wilderness is a parable of our lives in the world, it is sure that God is present within his people throughout their suffering, difficulties, conflicts, and poverty in the world. We often wonder why God allows the suffering of his people and why God leads his people into the wilderness.

We may find why God led Israelites into the wilderness in this scripture, even if it was far away from going to the Promised Land. Exodus 13:17 says, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, “If the peo-ple face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” In other words, God led the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land even though it was farther away. He did this because God knew his people’s weakness, and He wanted them to get into the Promised Land safely without a changed mind. Those who didn’t know God’s thoughts misunderstood Him, and they thought God abandoned them in the wilderness.

It is similar nowadays. Some people who get in trouble think God is punishing them. However, God leads us in a better way and must keep his promise, “I will be with you,” whether we are in the wilderness or the green pastures. “God is our strength and our shield;” as long as we trust in him, we may feel that. God always cares for us with his steadfast love, which means his love toward us is al-ways perfect. If you get in trouble and feel like God is far from you, please pause from your busy and stressful work, withdraw from the place where you are struggling for a while, and have some God-centered time so you may feel full of God’s love in your heart. I hope that you may regain God’s perfect love during the Advent season!

Pastor Jenny