DESOLATION – or is it?

The Atacama Desert occupies 40,600 square miles in Chile, between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Some weather stations in the Atacama have NEVER received rainfall and the average for the whole desert is 1mm per year (0.04 inches).

The centre of the Atacama, a place climatologists refer to as “absolute desert” is known as the driest place on Earth. NO rain has ever been measured there since rainfall was first recorded.

Franklin Elmer describes this area:

“Morning after morning, the sun rises brilliantly over the tall mountains. Each noon it shines brightly down and each evening brings a picturesque sunset. Although storms are often seen raging high in the mountains, and heavy fog banks are observed far out to sea, the sun continues to shine on this protected strip of land. One would imagine this area to be an earthly paradise but it is not. It is a sterile, desolate desert. There are no streams of water and nothing grows there.”

Too often we long for total sunshine in our lives.
We have wished to be rid of burdens, and we yearn for smooth sailing, but like this sunny, unfertile Atacama Desert, life without its troubles would not be creative, productive or challenging. We need both sunshine and showers.  The trusting Christian knows that in God’s wise design and under His sovereign control, the problems actually bring showers of blessings. Adversity is God’s blessing in disguise. 

James 1:2-5 tells us
we can COUNT it all joy when we are beset by trials
because we KNOW the purposes of God.
We can LET God’s maturing process work in us,
while we ASK for wisdom,
that we won’t waste the opportunity,
but will use it to grow and mature.

Despite the desolation, there is also stunning beauty in the Atacama.
The desert has the backdrop of the majestic Andes Mountains.  There are five snow-topped volcanos, which are the highest volcanos in the world. There are some sections of the desert with an annual rainfall of 0.6mm to 2.1mm and in these areas there is sparse vegetation and some magnificent cacti blooms.

A Christian who struggles with health problems or other burdens, but who delights in the Lord and receives His refreshing showers of blessings and His strength and enabling, is an undeniable witness to the REALITY of the Christ-filled life – like an incredibly beautiful CACTUS FLOWER in the desolate desert region.

Possibly the biggest lesson we can derive from the Atacama Desert is the need for “water” to enable us to grow and be productive. We know that water is necessary in life and in the Scriptures we see that spiritual life also depends on “Water” (John 4:10-14;  7:37-39;  Ephesians 5:25) referring to the Word of God and to the Holy Spirit.

When we neglect the Word of God and the teaching, leading, conviction, enabling and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we become just as desolate as the Atacama Desert. 

I cannot say that I am glad when storm clouds come;
When days and nights are burdensome and long.
I like the peacefulness of sunny days,
When life is bright, and in my heart’s a song.

And yet, I know the wisdom I have learned
Or any courage that my life displays,
Was never gained in golden,. Sunlit hours,
But rather grew from dark and stormy days.

I’ve felt God’s presence closer mid the storm,
As I relied on Him to guide my way;
And through my trials I found a stronger faith
Enabling me to better face each day.

And so, I would not ask God NOT to send
Those testings allowed by His loving hand;
For ALL things work together for my good,
And things once questioned, now I understand!
Author unknown

About meetingintheclouds

I am Cloudwatcher, a 76 year old Christian lady, happily married to a wonderful man for over 50 years. We have five wonderful sons, all with at least one University degree and in top positions in their chosen fields. One son is still single but four have found perfect wives and they have given us five lovely grandchildren. I was born in England and while I'm proud of my English heritage, I am doubly proud to be a true-blue, fair-dinkum Aussie. My husband and I are committed Christians whose first priority is to love and serve our risen Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. My life story will tell of my journey from abuse to peace. I suffered 22 years of abuse, being constantly told I was totally evil and an ugly freak: no one would ever want me, so I might as well do the world a favour and kill myself.
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22 Responses to DESOLATION – or is it?

  1. evestepulremon1978 says:

    Reblogged this on Ginny Bauman Posts.


  2. granbee says:

    ALL things work together for good for him who loves the Lord. The high desert places and the volcanoes are necessary in God’s plan, or they would not be there!


    • We love the ‘mountain top’ experiences but we wouldn’t appreciate them as much without the ‘valley’ experiences, would we? We praise God for ALL things, knowing that He will use everything to draw us closer to Himself and to “grow” us.

      What an amazing God!


  3. snowgood says:

    Interesting. I often feel that some Christians always put a spin on things, suggesting that something is “out of line” in folks lives because life doesn’t always go well. The same folk love to read books endlessly seeking a better life, and won’t entertain “hardships” of any shape and form. Such folk used to build their lives around a steady career path, and one which knew no uncertainty. Thankfully it looks like those days are over BUT The Lord still has a lot of shaking up to in complacent Christian hearts….like mine!


    • None of us WANT hardships, but when I look back over my life, I can see that it was during the more difficult times that God “grew” me. He uses those times to teach us and to mature us.
      At my age I seek a somewhat restful life, but I know I still need a whole lot more shaking. ‘My life is in His hands’ and I trust Him.

      We serve an amazing God!


  4. branchl77 says:

    Excellent analogy. I will pass this post onto my son who will be starting college in the fall studying metorology. The ability to see God and hear his voice in all is beautiful. But to see Him through the eyes of others is really cool. Thanks I’m a fan.


    • Welcome branchl77. The greatest blessing in this life is to know God personally and rejoice in the REALITY of His presence in our life, being constantly refreshed by Him as He “grows” us to maturity in Christ.


  5. Ann says:

    Thank you so much, Angela

    I read, went away to digest and came back to feed some more… I will be doing this for a while. Do ignore the footprints.

    “When we neglect the Word of God and the teaching, leading, conviction, enabling and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, we become just as desolate as the Atacama Desert. ”
    A simple truth that often gets overlooked. Life is so busy these days we often forget the truth of what’s important. Missing water for one day may not be a biggie, but constantly missing Water will eventually add up. And the maths don’t look good!

    (I’ll be back for more…)



    • Thanks Ann.
      Living in the humidity of the tropics, I drink a lot of water. We need to, to avert dehydration. When I don’t drink of the Water of Life I become spiritually dehydrated – and that is NOT good. I suffer. I follow the big *I* and before long, things start to go wrong. What a gracious, loving Father He is to gently and lovingly bring me back to Himself and satisfy my soul with His refreshing.

      What an amazing God!


  6. Debbie says:

    Oh you did it again, gave us that wonderful analogy and picture of the Atacama Desert. All that sunshine, but no growth. :) It’s raining here today, and you have me thankful for the times that rain comes into my life, and He shows Himself faithful and true, making something beautiful bloom from it! What an amazing God! :)
    God bless you, mentor Angela, and the special way you encourage us and share Jesus with us! love and prayers for you and yours today!


    • No matter how badly we might need rain, I don’t like rainy weather . . . but I DO so appreciate the ‘rain’ the Lord sends! I know the Lord has sent rain in your life, because I see the most beautiful flower in you. He truly gives beauty for ashes.
      Keep blooming and sharing your love.

      We serve an amazing God!


  7. Rob Barkman says:

    Just a quick note… I trust your husabnd is doing well physically. I might have missed any updates you have given to us. If so, sorry. Lord bless you and your husband!


    • Thanks Rob. The Pacemaker is working but he is still a bit sore, unable to use his left arm, and has very little energy. However, it IS working so he will not get any more ‘drop outs’ and he will grow stronger as he rests. Thanks for your concern and your prayers.


  8. Rob Barkman says:

    The water of God’s Word gives us strength to serve and allows for our spiritual growth. What a blessing His Word is to us. But how often do we take His Word for granted and, by willfully obstaining from it, turn ourselves into a weak, immature spiritual desert? Thanks for another God honoring post reminding me to thank HIm for His Word.


    • That’s the crunch, isn’t it. Our gracious God has supplied all we need, but we have to take and use what He has given. We have to apply His Word to our situation and trust Him to do as He has promised. When we have a ‘desert’ time it is OUR fault – not His.

      We serve an amazing God!


  9. alwayzhis says:

    I am one who suffers with an incurable illness! Like the Apostle Paul who was afflicted with his ” thorn in the flesh”, I also know that my disease has a purpose. The Lord allowed this in me that He may be glorified and honored and I KNOW it. I thank Him daily for my afflictions, as they make me humble before Him. The most important attitude that we will ever nurture, that we will ever exhibit, is the attitude of thanksgiving. I am more convinced of that every day. The attitude that makes the difference is an attitude of being thankful, of being grateful. No matter what the situation. Thank you for this post!


    • I am sure you bloom like a beautiful cactus flower in a desolate place and I know the Lord will bless you and use you to bless others as you bloom for Him.
      We serve an amazing God who supplies our every need.


  10. Freedomborn says:

    Hi Angela, yes like you I believe God can and does work everything out for good in our lives but He tells us He does not cause us to suffer or have hardship ( see below ) but He does know that we will and He strengthens us as we seek Him, He also disciplines us by letting us suffer the consequences of our sin even in our thinking, like the Prodigal son did until he came to his senses.

    The Scriptures tell us that to say God does evil to bring good out of it is slander or that He willingly lets us suffer, His plans for us are good, it is not His choice. Jesus said we will have Trouble and He was not talking about light showers but heavy storms, He also assures us we will have the victory in Him and this is what we count as Joy that regardless of the storms we do not go through them alone, as we are tried by the Devil and he temps and afflicts us with his evil. As we call out to God and choose to walk in the Fruit of the Spirit by His empowering we will be perfected in Love as our evil flesh nature will be put to death and in this we give thanks.

    Lamentations 3: 33 For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.

    Isaiah 43:1-3 – Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.”

    Jeremiah 29 :11-12 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.

    Christian Love from both of us – Anne.


    • No Anne, I agree. God CANNOT cause suffering, but He does know the benefit of it and does allow it in our lives and He uses it to “grow” us. I am thankful for the times of trouble because they were opportunities for spiritual growth.


      • Freedomborn says:

        As God tells us in the Scriptures Angela, He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. but He does bring good even from evil. Many who suffer as the Scriptures tell us turn away from God not to Him, this is not His will but when His Children are tried and tempted by Satan because we turn to God we are strengthened and have the Victory.

        Would you willingly allow your children to suffer Angela or plan it, we live in a fallen world that Satan controls, for God to stop all evil, He would have to end the world as we know it and He will do so soon but till then He grieves to see us suffer even when we are responsible for it, just as you would do with your Children, He does not willingly allow it, He tolerates it not wanting anyone to perish. Until we are perfected in Love, He is giving us time, He is patient and It is by the Fruit of The Spirit that He moulds and shapes us.

        Christian Love from both of us- Anne


  11. Reblogged this on Christ Centered Teaching and commented:
    Wonderful Hope For All


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