Thought- Our scariest experiences can also be the place of our greatest growth.
Scripture: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
The wilderness means different things to different people. If you say to someone that you have just returned from the wilderness, they probably think you went camping or shot the rapids in a raft or canoe or went mountain climbing. They would think that you went to get away, to relax and recharge. They may think that you needed time alone to think about your life, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. To escape the frantic pace at which we live our lives in the 21st century. The wilderness conjures up vivid memories for most people. For me, it represents freedom, beauty, open space, quietness, serenity, adventure and most importantly, time for personal introspection and reflection. I have found my soul many times during various ‘wilderness’ excursions.
But in my Christian walk, as I am sure is the case with many other folks, the wilderness can represent something more scary. It can represent the times that truly test a man’s faith. it can represent our black hole experiences, where we are alone and afraid, with little feedback or communication from God. Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness to prove his faithfulness to the Father. Jesus suffered greatly in the wilderness, but he stood strong by rebuking the devil with scripture, “ it is written that Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4 “ It is also written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Matthew 4:7 ” Away from me Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” Matthew 4:10
The fact that Jesus, the Son of God, suffered greatly when tempted in the wilderness should give us all perspective when facing our own wilderness experiences. In fact, Hebrews 2:18 tells us, ” Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” That He understands what we are going through in our darkest hours of questioning our faith, and that He is able to help us and intercedes on our behalf when we’re wondering where God is in our lives, when our prayers aren’t being answered, when we can’t hear God’s voice, is what has kept me going many times. Because when we are in the midst of a wilderness experience, when God is building up our trust in Him through a season of preparation, there is no other practical way to get through that except to know that our savior, Jesus Christ, suffered as well and can relate to what we are going through. God uses our wilderness experience to teach us how to surrender our dreams to Him, how to persevere during a difficult trial, how to leave our comfort zones, so He can help us reach our full potential and best glorify Him. God is in the resume building business and He often uses our wilderness experiences to help mold us into what he needs us to be. That usually requires some pain on our part, and it always requires a greater level of patience and trust. God knows how badly we want our dream to be accomplished, He wants it even more. He must refine us first. For when our “lack” is finished, whatever that is for each of us personally, then our preparation in the wilderness is finished. We are finally ready to claim our dreams and glorify our God!
Prayer: Father God, our wilderness experiences can be excruciating as they often entail long periods of not being able to hear your voice. This is when we must grow in our faith, to live outside of our comfort zones, in order to be used by you for the great purpose for which we were created. Keep us strong during the periods of fear that accompany our wilderness experiences through the promises found in Scripture and through fervent prayer. We trust in your Holy Name. Amen!