Deserts are hot.

That might seem like an obvious statement but until you have been there I’m not sure you really know what hot is. I know it was like that for me. Even for short hikes in between air-conditioned bus rides, the thing you want to carry the most is water. I can remember on my BEMA study trip to Israel/Turkey the hottest hike we had I was carrying between 4-5 liters of water and drank every bit of it. To be completely honest, the desert was one of my favorite parts of the trip and I often think about going back. As I was catching up on my personal study, I listened to a short devotional by Ray Vanderlaan that took me right back to the heat and rocks of the deserts we hiked.

In the book of Exodus, we find the Israelites leaving Egypt with Pharaoh pursuing them through the desert to the Red Sea. As the story goes, God parts the waters of the Red Sea enabling the Israelites to cross on dry ground but as Pharaoh crosses in pursuit, the waters close over his chariots. The very next verses are a song of praise sung by Moses’s sister, Miriam.

“Then Miriam, the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel (tambourine) in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both the horse and the driver he has hurled into the sea.” (Exodus 15:20-21 NIV)

The question that I have always missed, that I got from the video devotional, how did the women come to have tambourines? You are in the desert, carrying only what you are able and yet they brought tambourines instead of that much more food or provisions.

I meant really, who thinks to pack a tambourine for a long trip through the desert? I would have packed extra skins of water instead of a tambourine.

But maybe here’s the thought.

We will always face difficulties in life. We can let those moments knock us down or we can purposefully look for ways to celebrate. I think the women packed the tambourines because they knew they would have moments to dance, even in the desert because God was with them and would provide.

We can let life knock us down but we get up again. Why? I think as we learn to trust the whole story of God and our place in His story, we can trust that he will provide and have our backs. Maybe not in the way we think, or maybe not even in the way we hope or imagine, but he will always be with us. Even in the middle of difficult seasons,

we will find moments to dance in the desert, so it’s best to pack the tambourines.