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The Wilderness

The wilderness: a place of silence, a place of darkness. There seems to be no escape, there’s no way out. You can’t tell the beginning from the end. You’re alone and you’re lost.

Have you ever been there before? Are you there now?

You see the wilderness is a place of uncertainty. Where you don’t seem to have the answers to the questions you’re asking. You don’t really know where you’re going, or why you’re here or if you’re ever going to leave. 

As believers we often wonder why God would allow us to experience such a place. A place so quiet that even his voice seems faint. Because the truth is, as Christians there is going to be some point on our journey where we’ll experience a difficult season. And we see it mentioned in the bible. That people, God’s people in particular often visit the wilderness. 

“So, God led the people around by the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea”

Exodus 13:18

But the question on everyone’s lips is why? Why does he allow us experience such a season? 

A lot of the time we go through the wilderness so our hearts can be tested. Do we want God because he’s God or because of what he can do for us? Because when you’ve reached the mountain top and things seem to going well for you, it’s easy to forget God. It’s easy to put him at the bottom of our list of priorities. So, God can lead us here, where we have no choice but to depend on him. We are humbled. 

“And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not.” Deuteronomy 8:2

It’s often in the broken places where you seek God the most. When you realise how much you actually need him and your faith is examined. How much do you really believe God? Do you believe him enough, to trust him even in these circumstances? 

In the wilderness we spend so much time searching for answers. Asking God why he led us here, when in fact we be should asking, ‘what does he want to teach me?’ 

“So he humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds

from the mouth of the Lord”

Deuteronomy 8:3

What does God want you to learn in this season of quiet. It’s only when the noise of the world is hushed, that you can hear the whisper of the Lord. What things does he want you to hear, what does he want to reveal to you? 

A prime example of God leading his people into the wilderness, is the children of Israel. The children of Israel experienced the triumphant hand of God. He had delivered them from slavery and set them free from bondage. They witnessed him bring perilous plagues upon the Egyptians, and he parted the Red Sea in front of their very eyes. They had experienced the power of God on another level. You could even say that they were at their peak.  But the joy of liberty soon took hold of them. They made idols for themselves, began to worship things other than God. They forgot him. They forgot their saviour and we can be guilty of this too. In the midst of life, we forget the one who gives us breath every day. We get so caught up with other things that don’t hold as much value, and we can put God on the back-burner. We’re content with how much of God we have, that we don’t desire to know him more, or to invest in our relationship with him.

So, they entered the wilderness. Years of desolation. Journeying to a land that they thought they would never reach. You see, God’s plan was always to bring them to the promised land. The land flowing with milk and honey. He could have easily taken them the easy route. But they had a lesson to learn. They had to understand who God was, and how much they truly needed him. 

Their faith was tested and they learned to truly depend on God. The bible says that when they had no food, they had to trust God to feed them, and he made manna fall from the sky. When they were thirsty, they had to trust God to quench them, and he drew water from a rock. When they were directionless, they had to trust God to lead them. He went before them as a cloud by day and fire by night. In the wilderness, God became more real to them than ever before.

“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.”

Exodus 13:21

I was once in a season just like this. I felt so alone, like God wasn’t there. Like he was turning a deaf ear to my cries for help. Endless evenings were spent frantically sifting through the pages of my bible, hoping and looking for answers to this silence. Trying to understand why God would have me in such a place. But soon enough, it was revealed to me that I was looking for the wrong things. Instead of looking for answers, God just wanted me to look for Him. He wanted me to desire him, more than the things I wanted.

The point is, yes as Christians we will experience mountaintop moments. But where there’s mountains, there’s also valleys. The wilderness. I know it can feel like in this moment that God isn’t there, but he is. He’s always there. Waiting for you to draw near to him. 

“He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years, the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing”

Deuteronomy 2:7

So, when you’re here, don’t grumble and don’t complain. Rather listen out for the still small voice of God. Draw nearer to him. Be obedient to all that he asks of you, even if it doesn’t make sense. And you’ll see the fruit that the wilderness can bear.

“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:19


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