JESUS’ TIME IN THE WILDERNESS IS OUR MODEL AS WE JOURNEY THROUGH DESERT TIMES
“I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:19 –
God allows us at times to enter a wilderness experience. A time of trial when no end appears in sight… no light at the end of the tunnel. A time when God seems to have forgotten us. The wilderness looks to be too vast to traverse, too desolate to endure.
The Israelites bristled and chafed at their wilderness journey. Their 40 years of wandering were characterized by questioning God’s love and concern for them… doubting His promises of care and provision… and even abandoning Him.
Imagine having a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night guiding you through the desert. Imagine receiving heavenly manna, the bread of angels, to sustain you. What incredible manifestations of a loving, caring God! Their God was with them every step of the way.
“The work God does in the wilderness is preparing you for what’s on the other side of it.”
God uses our times in the “desert” for wilderness training. He allowed his own Son to have a wilderness experience. After 40 days of fasting in the desert, Jesus was tired, alone, hungry. At this most vulnerable time, He was tempted by Satan. We can look to this experience of Jesus to discover key points on how to endure our wilderness journeys and grow in God’s training ground.
† Jesus stayed close to the Father – As should we. Stand on His promises. He has not forgotten us… we have forgotten Him. We have taken our eyes off our Deliverer… and we see only the vastness of the desert. He will never abandon us or forsake us. He desires that we draw close to Him in this time. He wants us to press into His presence.
† Jesus talked to the Father – In wilderness times, we may find it difficult to pray. Yet our Father wants us to cry out to Him in our troubles. We come into His presence not to demand our desires but to align our thoughts with His… to see things from His perspective… to be reminded of His sovereignty. As Jesus prayed, so should we… “not My will, Lord, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4
† Jesus countered the lies of the enemy with Scripture – We need to follow His model. The enemy reminds us how alone we are… how terrible things have become… how this desert goes on forever. Like Jesus, we speak God’s truth to refute the enemy’s lies. God’s promises never fail.
† Jesus deepened His resolve to persevere – Our faith is tested in these desert days. We can either allow these times to cause us to doubt God’s love and care… or cause our trust in Him to be strengthened. God will refine us in these times if we allow Him. He will deepen our faith. He will mature us and prepare us for greater things as we endure… as we let Him unfold His will in our lives.
“A wilderness whose burning winds sweep over glowing sands, what are they to Him? Even there He can refresh us, even there He can renew us.” – Amy Carmichael, Missionary
† Jesus received heavenly blessings – After overcoming Satan’s temptations, angels attended to Him. God will bless us in our wilderness times… although they are often hidden blessings. We need to seek them out. We may not even notice anything but the barren desert and the scorching winds. Yet as we look to Him to walk us through the desert times, He will hearten us and give us hope through these blessings.
Wilderness times may seem dark and unending. Yet our God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness. As we take our focus off the desolate wilderness and focus on the richness of God, He will walk us through the parched desert to His rest and refreshment. As with the Israelites, the Promised Land lies just on the other side of the desert. Persevere. Don’t give up. And yield to God’s wilderness training.