The Wilderness Experience
“In the wilderness … you saw how the LORD God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.” (Deuteronomy 1:31)
In our journey through life, we may often find ourselves in a wilderness situation. It is a situation of desolation, loneliness, harshness, and uncertainty. We might even feel compelled to flee and run to a more familiar landscape. However, as followers of Christ, we are encouraged to resist that temptation and hold fast to our faith.
In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus soon after his baptism was brought to the wilderness. We see how Satan targeted Him directly when He was vulnerable. However, as a model for us, Jesus faithfully countered the lies of Satan, endured temptation, danger, and fasting. He, in a way, sets an example of how we can give precedence to Scripture and emulate Him to navigate through the spiritual trials and challenges.
For us Christians, a wilderness is not limited to a thick, mossy forest with towering trees or a sand desert with oppressively hot days and cold nights, but also a metaphor for a period of trial leading to spiritual growth and development. The wilderness reveals our true selves where our souls become dry and thirsty, and we don’t settle for clichés or easy answers. It is in the wilderness that we discover who we are and how we trust God.
Scripture tells us that our strength and provisions come from God. The Israelites were unable to provide for themselves in the wilderness. God provided for them, raining down bread from heaven (Exodus 16:4). If Israel was ever going to stand in the promised land, they would first need to walk through the wilderness with God, and with God’s word in their hearts. The story of Israel is an example of God’s assurance to us, His chosen people, the new Israel, following His salvific action.
When we are discouraged in the wilderness, it is likely that we might become angry with God. But, when we learn to cement our dependence on God’s word, we will find ourselves better able to respond to trials and be motivated to use our God-given talents and gifts for His glory.
In the midst of our wilderness experience, let us continue to pray and draw strength and encouragement from His Word, knowing that He is the Lord. Just as He was faithful to the Israelites whom He led out of Egypt and brought to the promised land; God will be faithful to us too in whatever wilderness we are facing.
Mr. Surender Pokhal