They complained, "If only there wasn't oil in the water of our wells and rivers, our animals could drink safely and we could survive." That was before they found out the incredible value of that nuisance oil that lay beneath the surface of the sand. Their discovery made them among the richest people in the world. Splendid palaces now replace dilapidated tents.
What is our "if only" complaint?
If only my circumstances had been different. . . .
If only I had been born of different parents. . . .
If only I had received more education. . . .
If only I had such and such talent or ability. . . .
If only I had married someone else. . . .
If only my children had turned out better. . . .
If only I had chosen a different job or career. . . .
If only I could change my location. . . .
If only I could be young again and start over. . . .
The grass always looks greener somewhere else. The Lord promised to lead His children "in green pastures" (Psalm 23) but perhaps the desert of our present life doesn't look much like a palm-treed oasis. Other people always seem to get the breaks.
Have we given serious thought and prayer to the fact that the oil in our water source may be there for some wonderful purpose of God? For our good? We are where we are and who we are because God planned it that way. What we think is a hindrance, an obstacle, a stone of stumbling, may be a stepping stone for some opportunity that we have yet to see.
Our response as Christians to our circumstances is the key to finding the oil beneath the sand of our personal desert. We may be looking no further than the smelly sheep and goats of our humdrum daily lives. God, on the other hand, may have spiritual oil derricks in mind whereby we could not only experience victory in our own lives over our adverse circumstances, but we could point others to our source of strength in Christ.
Let’s look over the sandy desert of our lives today. It is, after all, a matter of outlook and vision. Why not let God open our eyes to see our "green pastures and still waters" without our moving anywhere else or changing our circumstances? The Lord might have exciting surprises for us in the very situation where He has put us!