The Wilderness Experience and You

Have you, or are you having, a “Wilderness Experience” during your life. It’s a time when you look around and it seems dry and parched and nothing you do seems to change it. In my time on earth, I believe everyone I’ve known has had a wilderness experience. Many are having it now. There may be challenges in relationships with family members. There may be anxiety over the state of the nation. Perhaps there are nagging financial issues. Health may be a threatening concern. It might be part or all of the above. Rich or poor, we all experience these times in our lives. But be encouraged. Each day brings you closer to the end of the dessert. And Christ promises, “I am with you always.”

We often question why we are going through the wilderness. If we just had understanding, it would help us. Christ said in Matthew 5:44-45, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. That you may be children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” And it’s true. Christ spent forty days in the wilderness before he began his ministry. Abraham left his home to travel through the wilderness. Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, experienced the wilderness because of famine or family feuds or jealousy or preparation. The entire nation of Israel spent a generation in the wilderness. The just and the unjust alike.

In all of these examples, the trials and tribulations had one thing in common: relationship with God. In every case, the wilderness experience brought the person into a closer relationship with God. In fact, it taught them, or tried to teach them, how to be children of God the Father (i.e., Matthew 5:44). The wilderness is a time when things are so intense, there appears to be no relief on the horizon, and the only action we can take is to cry out to the Lord. Sometimes when we are in the wilderness, it is most difficult to see the “why.” We keep asking “why.” The “why” really is the long-game—what we learn after we pass through the wilderness. It often only can be revealed to us after we have learned to respond to the wilderness experience. The “why” may be simply growing closer to God. The “what” is our gain from the experience.

The wilderness is where we can hear God and experience transformation into the person the Lord wants us to be. It’s not an attack on you or some game being played. It’s about getting you out of “you” and into the Lord. The suffering experienced in the wilderness is about God’s purpose. How it’s handled makes the difference in you. Whatever wilderness you are experiencing, draw closer to God. Try not to fall into the pit of self. Know that God is working in you toward his purpose for you and that He wants the best for you and loves you. The only way out of the wilderness that I have found is following the lead of Christ. You can do this for He will strengthen you. As Joshua said to the Israelites as they claimed the promised land, “choose this day whom you will serve…but for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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Bill Wilson