During the Lenten season, I have been reading a devotional book centered on Jesus’ temptation by the Devil in the wilderness. He was alone, and He became hungry, and He went through a time of testing. Throughout the history of God’s people, there have been wilderness times of trial and testing. Moses seemed to spend considerable time in the Wilderness: 22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and went into the Desert of Shur. For three days, they traveled in the desert without finding water. (Exodus 15:22) Why do these times occur, and what lessons can be learned from wilderness experiences?
- They are a time of testing. These are times when we apply what we have heard and learned to real-life situations. In a previous post, I said that God allows tests to develop and refine us, not damage or destroy.
- They can be overwhelming. As I look back over the years, I can remember how complex the challenges of these experiences were. Sometimes I did not think I would make it and come out on the other side unscathed.
- They are times of discipline. The Bible clearly states that God disciplines His children. No child enjoys disciplinary action while it takes place. Still, we must understand that discipline is for our good and ultimately help us.
- During these times, we can feel discouraged and all alone. They can be very lonely. The length and severity of the trial seem to show no sign of letting go or stopping. Like the biblical lament, we say, “how long, O Lord?”
What should we remember when we are in the wilderness?
- God knows exactly where we are! He knows both your name and your address! Whether on a mountaintop or in the lowest valley, God never loses sight of where you are and what you need. God has not lost track of you, even in the most difficult of challenges.
- Life does not progress according to our plans! Often a dry or trying time feels like something has gone terribly wrong. Our path is never a straight line from one victory to the next. When we begin following the Lord, we acknowledge that His ways are not ours.
- There are lessons to be learned! I am appreciative of the lessons learned, and battles won. I know it is accurate, and it has repeatedly been true. Yet, I have had little appreciation for the place of difficulty while passing through its borders. Often the takeaways are not appreciated as we go through the trial but as we reflect on the process.
- Rest follows tests! Throughout the history of God’s people in times of drought, He provides water. In times of challenge, He brings relief. In times of exhaustion, He brings us to a place of rest! I pray He will give you His peace and rest out of the desert.
- Trust and confidence in God are learned in challenging places! As the song says, “All my life, you have been faithful. All my life, you have been so, so good!” I have enjoyed the mountain tops in my walk with God, but as I reflect over the years. The lessons learned and the growth I have experienced have occurred in the valleys!
- God has always been there for me! A few days ago, as I was praying, a memory came back to me of an awful time during my childhood. It was an unpleasant reminder of a horrible day and time. Yet I had an overwhelming sense from the Lord that even during that awful time, He was with me and helping to take what the enemy meant for evil and turned it for His glory. I can testify that wherever you are today. God is for you! He will redeem all things!
I have learned that God has taught me patience and endurance through some of the tough times I have experienced. God has used the most complex trials to teach me some lessons I may not have learned any other way.
I pray that if you are in the wilderness right now, you cling to His Hand and trust Him. He will bring you through! I know it is hard, but hard places can be turned into an Oasis of grace!