The Gospel is the story of God’s work to bring life into barren places, a theme that bookends the Christ narrative. The wilderness of Mary’s barren womb is miraculously transformed into a repository for God’s most precious gift: the child, Jesus. The barren tomb bears witness to the greatest miracle in human history: the resurrection of Christ. In both instances, barrenness was prerequisite for God’s redemptive activity.
Sometimes we bemoan the barrenness of our experience with God. We pray earnestly, yet nothing changes. We pour over scripture, yet God remains distant. Our spiritual life, once vibrant and teeming with life, now seems desolate and sterile. Like an ember removed from the fire, we feel something growing cool in our souls. The ancient fathers call this “the dark night of the soul”. In this darkness and barrenness, we wonder if we’re losing our faith. We wonder what’s wrong with us. And we wonder if God ran off on some errand forgot about us.
All of this to say: when we experience these times of barrenness, we might be precisely where we are meant to be, for it is often in the barrenness that we are most prepared to receive all that He has to offer: grace, truth, direction, presence. It is in wilderness that the promise of Canaan resonates with us most fully.
Before the glory of Resurrection Sunday, the followers of Jesus endured the barrenness of Friday and Saturday. And their experience is ours as well.