What is Wilderness?
Unlike a trial, wilderness is a special place where God allows us to be hard pressed on every side and to be tempted by the devil in several ways. Based on my experience, I find wilderness to be a place where we feel lonely and cut off from fellowship with other believers. It’s a place where we cannot see or plan anything about the future, a place where we constantly grope and long for our path to be illuminated.
Who leads us into Wilderness?
Out of His immense love for us, God leads us into wilderness to accomplish something beautiful in our lives. It is God who allures us into the wilderness and not Devil. Devil has no authority over our lives. He is a defeated foe.
Hosea 2:14-16 NASB – “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.
Matthew 4:1 NASB – Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Why Does God Lead Us into the Wilderness?
Why does a loving Father allow His children to be in a place where they are hard pressed on every side? I believe, God wants to accomplish 3 things in our lives when he allows us to go through a very difficult situation.
a. To get us into an intimate relationship with Him.
Song of Solomon 8:5 NASB – “Who is this coming up from the wilderness
leaning on her beloved?”
When we come out of the wilderness, one thing that is sure to happen is that we will come out leaning on Him. The whole reason behind God allowing hardships in our life is to allure us into an intimate relationship with Him. No amount of bible study or listening to messages will get us into this intimate place of leaning on the beloved. We must be led into the Wilderness by God so we can come out leaning on Him.
b. To purify us from the sins in us.
1 Peter 1:6,7 NASB – In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Gold cannot be purified by merely washing it with water and soap. To remove the metals mixed with gold, it has to be put into the fire. Similarly, we also need to be tested by “fire” so that we can cleansed from the sins in us. We become more heavenly minded as a result of being tested by fire. Our priorities in life change because we now see clearly what is more valuable in God’s sight. We recognize that all that the world runs after – money, honor, power etc. is detestable in God’s sight.
Luke 16:15 NASB – For that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.
We will have our eyes opened to the true riches of Heaven and we will be eager to lay up treasures for ourselves in Heaven than on earth (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB).
c. God wants to break us and then fill us with the power of His Holy Spirit
Luke 4:14 NASB – And Jesus returned (from wilderness) to Galilee in the power of the Spirit.
Jesus returned from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit and became a blessing to many.
Luke 4:18 NASB – “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed.
God is eager to give us the power of his Holy Spirit – power to overcome sin in our own lives and power to set those who are oppressed by the devil free. But God cannot bestow this power upon His children unless they are first broken. So, God uses wilderness as a means to humble us and to test us and then eventually do good to us.
Deuteronomy 8:16 NASB – In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end.
Are there Promises to take hold of in the wilderness?
While we wait for God to lead us out of the wilderness, here are some precious promises in the scripture that we can lay hold of at ALL times. These promises are as much true in the wilderness as they are when things are easy.
a. God will NOT allow us to be tempted beyond our ability.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB – No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
What an awesome promise to lay hold of even in the midst of a very difficult trial!! Whatever we may be going through, God hasn’t allowed anything beyond our ability. It’s comforting to know that God is in absolute control of everything that goes on in our lives. When it’s tempting to complain that the trial is intense, this promise reminds me that my Heavenly Father did not give me what I cannot handle.
As a Father, I am extremely careful about the temperature of water when giving bath to my 10-month-old baby. I do not simply throw my son into the bathtub without first ensuring that he can handle water temperature. Similarly, my Heavenly Father doesn’t throw me into any situation without first checking whether I can handle it or not.
Psalms 103:14 NASB – For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
b. God is with us in the wilderness
Hebrews 13:5 NASB – For He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you”.
Even at times where it feels like we are all by ourselves in the wilderness, we need not get discouraged because God is with us. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.
c. God has Amazing plans for our lives
Jeremiah 29:11 NASB – For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
When we do not understand God’s dealings with us in the wilderness or when we do not see the end of the tunnel, when it’s tempting to wonder what future might look like, we can be confident that God has great plans for our lives, plans to prosper us and not to harm us. Therefore, we can be secure in His love and plans for us and let him be in the driving seat of our lives even when we do not understand His ways.
Isaiah 55:9 NASB – “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.
All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Let Him lead thee blindfold onwards,
Love needs not to know;
Children whom the Father leadeth
Ask not where they go.
Though the path be all unknown,
Over moors and mountains lone.
Lastly, knowing that God causes ALL things to work together for our eternal good (Romans 8:28), we can rejoice now, while we are still in the wilderness. We can be a pleasing aroma (2 Corinthians 2:14,15) to Him by trusting His work in our lives and submitting under His mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6).
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB – Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.