One of the most striking passages in the Bible is found in Hosea 2:14: “I will entice you into the desert and there I will speak to you in the depths of your heart.” Does God entice us into deserts? Deserts are not very pleasant places to live or even to pass through. Deserts are desolate and arid wastelands. They lack water and other necessities for human life. The Bible refers to some desert spaces as wilderness regions—a space “uncultivated and uninhabited,” an empty and pathless region, a hostile environment. The Bible speaks of literal deserts and wildernesses, but it also uses desert images metaphorically. In the metaphorical sense, the desert may mean a feeling of emptiness, a catastrophic illness, problem, disappointment, or hurt. I suspect that every one has had a desert experience of one kind or another. The question is: Does Love (God) entice us into the desert? Does (God) Love really want us to experience the awfulness of the desert? Or does Life entice (lead) us into the desert? I suppose it depends upon one’s perception about who and what God is.
If your god is a god who has absolute control over everything and thus is responsible for all of your blessings, miseries and sufferings, then indeed, we can say it is your god who entices or leads you into the deserts. I’ve never been able to see God in that way. Life tumbles in, not because God wants it to tumble in as it does, but because life is life and life just naturally includes illness, disease, suffering, hurt, grief, etc. that we often refer to as desert experiences. Do we blame God for giving us pneumonia? Or is pneumonia a result of viruses, bacteria, and fungi?
While God (Love) may not cause, lead, will, or entice us into our desert experiences, God (Love) is there in the midst of those experiences (as God is in all of life) and sometimes, as Fenelon says, it takes a desert experience for us to slush off our ego trappings, sense our powerlessness, and get still enough to hear God speak in the depths of our hearts.