When God led the Israelites out of Egypt, the destination was the promised land of Canaan – a land of abundance and rest. The route was through the desert – which by contrast was hot, difficult and filled with discomfort. As is so often the case, God’s good plans include a path through the desert. From the perspective of the New Testament our entire life this side of heaven can rightly be considered a path through the desert (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Hebrews 4:1-11; et al.). But in a microcosm there are many instances in this life that follow this larger paradigm. It might be one of the many painful paths that God utilizes in our lives to bring us to a new level of maturity. It may be the discomfort of an illness before the relief of restored health. Or it might be the painful financial struggles before a season of financial stability. Whatever the circumstance, we can learn from the poor example of the Israelites in their desert. Their monumental failure was how they handled the pain on the way to their relief. They whined and complained. They were bitter and angry. They longingly looked back at the fish and cucumbers of Egypt, instead of looking forward to the milk and honey of Canaan (Numbers 11:4-6). God would have us learn to patiently endure the hardship of our deserts with faith and hope. He has promised relief. In the meantime his Spirit is able to make us resilient and resolute. May we not have to look back from our next “Canaan” regretting our words and our attitudes in the desert.