Ugly crying and the desert of doubt

There’s a lonely place devoid of spiritual awakening. A barren place of my own undoing. And I know I’m not alone in acknowledging the desert. It’s just that a lot of Christians don’t want to stare that reality down.

Last week I had to sit in a doctor’s office and hear results from an MRI my son had. He’s been having migraines with auras and the doctor just wanted to rule out other illnesses. The type of illnesses this mom doesn’t want to face. Yet, they chased me down at work, at the dinner table, when I prayed. Elders in our church anointed our son with oil. Dear friends prayed. I fasted. And the results came back that his brain was consistent with someone who has migraines. Nothing else. Thank God.

But, after I said thank You to God, my response was one I hadn’t anticipated. After the healing came and the relief, so did doubt. So did the battle in my mind that maybe the diagnosis was off. There was something missed on the radiology report. That my son was being sucked up in some medical tornado that I had no power over.  I get part of what was going on was a spiritual lie being fed to me. But I’m just trying to own up to it here.

God gave me Psalm 107, and I wanted to share a little with you in the next few posts because it rocked me. Flayed. Me. Open. It speaks to people stuck in desert places and tells them what to do when sin has left you gasping for air. Take heart. The desert need not be a permanent dwelling.

Who are these people? (v.4) “Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.” This describes people who made a choice, not people who have fallen on hard times through no action of their own. These people took one step that led to another and continued down a path that looked like a great idea at the time, but ended up in a confusing place.

Whether it’s a fearful mom, a person giving into addiction, or someone who has held onto unforgiveness like a prized bowling trophy–sometimes even strong Christians follow their sin into the desert. We learn that nothing that can sustain faith grows in places outside of God’s will.

However, God is faithful.

(v.6) “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.”  This was literally in their last breath. Their soul “fainted within them”. It doesn’t describe them as going through a whole bunch of religious motions. They were gasping. And they cried out. How beautiful the heart of God that He would meet us at our worst.

In fact, verse 7 proclaims that He not only leads these people out of desert isolation to an inhabited town, He gives them Living Water and the Bread of Life.

If you have found yourself trapped in a spiritual desert, there are two things this Psalm is directing you to do right now.

First, cry out to God in your distress.

Don’t wait to be spiritually perfect before you do it. God’s word says to not let shame, guilt, doubt, or any other circumstances talk you out of crying out to Him. He’s not going to wag a finger at you. In fact, He will show up in ways that bring direction. Inside your distress. There are no right words. Cry. Out. Ugly cry. Just don’t stay silent.

The second thing is found in verse 8 “Let them thank the LORD for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to humankind.”

Thank Him for His steadfast love.

God’s love never changes. Not even when we willfully wander into desert landscapes. When we cry out to Him, and God shows up the Bible is clear. Thank Him.

How beautiful the Presence of the LORD is to the person 


who cries out from the desert! The taste of Living Water on parched lips and soul! Acknowledge the love that rescues. Let it become a part of your faith story, so you can remind someone else of it instead of judging them in their own desert place. So you can resist the temptation to take the path that leads away from God’s will.
My hope for anyone who reads this is that you claim God as a compass out of your desert place. That you would focus on the steadfast and transformative love of God, and not any guilt or doubt that you harbor. Be blessed by the contrast of God’s Living Water for our desert air.

He is faithful to those who cry out to Him.


6 Comments Add yours

  1. Briana Peterson says:

    I tried to type post this once, and it didn’t look like it worked. So, if you get this twice, sorry….

    Thank you for sharing your heart and for your transparency in doing so. You, my friend, prayed for us as we were going through our journey through the desert (multiple trips). It is such a beautiful thing to have friends and believers who stand in faith on your behalf, especially when your faith is weary. I look back at what was such a dry and broken place for us and can truly say that I don’t think I have ever felt so close to my Father. I am so thankful that He is with us in every moment, loving us through it, and that His faithfulness never waivers, even when we do. It’s from those moments that we can see how intimately involved our God is with the details of our lives. Nothing surprises Him! Love you guys and praising God for wonderful results.


    1. Thank you for posting this. It really was a gift reading what you had to say about the reality of being there for each other as we go through desert times…..Seeing your family emerge from tough times is a joy. It is a wonderful thing to have other faithful families to do life with. You are right. He is so faithful!


  2. Allison Vollenweider says:

    Amen!! This is real, deep, beautiful and true Julie! Thankful Cameron’s MRI came back clear. Thank You Jesus!!

    Love you! Allison


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for being one of the people who prayed for him.


  3. If you wait to be spiritually perfect to cry out to God… you’ll never be spiritually perfect! I don’t know what spiritual perfection is, but if it’s anything, it’s depending on God, crying out to Him, acknowledging that you have no resources and no protection, that you are vulnerable and nothing, that you are helpless, and that He is everything and alone can save, create, sustain, beautify, sanctify. (It’s not even sin to be helpless; it’s sin to reject God and try to NOT be helpless – that is, try to be God.)


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