Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor [Valley of Trouble] a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. Hosea 2:14-15 (NIV)
That phrase translated “speak tenderly to her” is literally in the Hebrew “speak to her heart.”
God wants to speak to our hearts. The Hebrew word translated desert is midbar (מִדְבָּר). It means desert, uninhabited land, wilderness. But is also means mouth. It comes from the word dabar (דָבָר) “to speak, commune, talk, name, teach.” It was in the wilderness where God spoke to Moses and taught the Israelites.
So I took them out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live. Ezekiel 20:10-11 (NASB)
Our dry, gasping, desperate wilderness experiences are meant to lead us from the cacophony of this world to a place where we can hear God speak to us, commune with us, teach us, name us. The place we can remember who and whose we are. The place where we can return to our first love. The place where we can look up and see again the door of hope.
The amazing thing is that the word midbar also means pasture, in the sense of a place where cattle are driven for grazing. Jesus said:
I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 (NLT)
Jesus the door of hope. Jesus our salvation. Jesus the Word of God speaking to us. Jesus our pasture or sustenance.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 (NIV)
Lord, may my Valley of Trouble become for me a Door of Hope. Open my ears that I may hear you speaking to me here in this desolate, wilderness place. Feed me, teach me, woo me, name me again.
Child of God
Lamb of your flock
But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction. He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food. Job 36:15-16 (NIV)
Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me. Isaiah 65:10 (NIV)
For more about the wilderness see Highway to Your City
Image of sheep in pasture by Sheila Bair