“They did not say, ‘Where is the LORD Who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, Who led us through the wilderness, Through a land of deserts and of pits, Through a land of drought and of deep darkness, Through a land that no one crossed And where no man dwelt?’
An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.
- a neglected or abandoned area of a garden or town.
a position of disfavor, especially in a political context.
Before reading this definition, the images I associated with the term, “wilderness” were relatively positive. I think of hikes through the woods or mountains, enjoying the raw beauty of God. Nature has always been a favorite place of mine to immerse in because it displays God. It is beautiful chaos, yet each facet fits together perfectly. There is a rhyme and reason and a lesson in everything I see. God is very present and very alive in those places, and His voice often becomes as clear as the wind in the trees or in the cry of the hawk.
However, my view of the wilderness is shaped by my experiences. I’ve never been lost, attacked by a wild animal, or caught up in a storm without shelter. Nor have I ever experienced another form of wilderness, such as the desert. The wilderness I know is rich and full of life, while the wilderness the Israelites knew, was a hot and unforgiving wasteland that only the strongest could withstand.
It is that “wilderness” in which Adam and Eve were cursed into. It was that wilderness in which Abraham raised his family, awaiting God’s promise. It was that wilderness in which Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. That wilderness in which Jesus was tested by satan.
Over and over again the bible mentions this wilderness. It was a place that the jews sent their sins into in the form of a goat, hence the term “scapegoat” (Leviticus 16:10), a place that the high and proud King Nebuchadnezzar was cast into like a wild animal, feasting on grass (Daniel 4:33). The wilderness was a place where the proud became humble, where faith was tested, and you could become lost in more ways than one.
Why did God create such a place? Why did He cause the Israelites to wander in it for 40 years? Why did Jesus have to go into the wilderness to be tested?
I believe there are many reasons but the core lesson is this; His grace is sufficient.
We have nothing, can do nothing, and are nothing apart from God. It is only by His grace that we live and are blessed. Every man must go through such a trial in order for this truth to come alive in his heart. Otherwise, we will always believe that “we” can overcome challenges on our own, or by our own might. We will take God’s blessings for granted or will attribute such blessings to our own skill and success.
“Consider it a gift when you hit a point in which God is your only option.”
-Brian Johnson, Christian singer/songwriter
“Faith is the inner confidence that God is enough.”
-Brian Simmons, author of the Passion Translation
Jesus often went away to the wilderness, even after he was tested by satan, to spend time alone with God. I believe it was in these moments Jesus renewed his strength. It is easy to forget that he was a man too, that he faced every hardship and suffered more than anyone for our sake. If the Son of God needed to go off alone and pray, then how much more do we need to do this?
Each of us has walked in or will walk through the wilderness. Maybe not in the literal sense, but in the spiritual one for certain. It is only through such a place that we learn to trust God, to surrender it all to Him, because only He can save us and our families.