God leads every believer into the desert at one time or another.
Well, maybe not every believer. I can’t give you a Bible verse that says that. But in over 30 years of pastoring, I’d say God leads most believers into the desert at one time or another.
Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God raised him up to lead Israel out of Egypt. As soon as God delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, he took them into the desert. David did a lot of desert time hiding out from Saul before God made him king. And the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert after his baptism for 40 days.
Lots of circumstances can be “deserts.”
A prolonged sickness can be a desert. Moving to a new place or joining a new church where you don’t know anyone can be one. Being stuck in a miserable or boring job instead of the fulfilling career you had hoped for can be a desert. A rebellious child or an unbelieving spouse can be a desert.
When we’re in the desert, it can feel like God’s not doing anything. Or he’s set us aside. But God is always at work. He uses desert experiences in many ways, as we see in Dt. 8:2-6:
Deserts humble us
And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you (v 2)
Deserts reveal what is in our hearts
Testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. (v 2)
The Lord is at work redeeming and sanctifying a people for Himself.