You're going to go through a wilderness experience. No matter how strong your faith is, no matter how faithful your walk with God has been, and no matter where you are in life, you are going to have to go through the wilderness.
Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, and Jesus himself all had their times in the wilderness, and you will too.
So, if you're not currently having a wilderness experience, you're bound to have one coming up or know someone who is.
The wilderness experience comes with feelings of depression, exhaustion, being spiritually and emotionally drained, and feeling downright devastated.
Go prepare a warm beverage and get comfy.
We're going deep.
If you've been through a series of devastating traumas and losses in the last several years, if your natural, cheerful optimism has waned, if you have questions, you wouldn’t dare to ask your own Pastor for fear of being seen as faithless, this article is for you.
Whether you're looking for an exit strategy or you want to help someone else through their experience, this article will help you navigate the terrain and avoiding some of the pitfalls and stumbling blocks.
As you read this, I pray that there will be an outpouring of healing ointment all over your spiritual wounds. Let these words work as a spiritual dressing to bind up the hurting places and set them straight once more.
This article won't solve all of your problems, but it can help you find the strength to go on when challenges on all sides surround you.
I pray that it will help now and prepare you for your next personal wilderness and give you insight into how to be a good friend and steward to those who may also be going through a hard time themselves.
If your life has some darkness in it, or maybe it seems completely overcast, there are many things you may not be able to see. I want to give you helpful advice and insights you need to spot anything that your blind spots might hide.
It is my great privilege and honor to help shine a little light your way and direct you on your journey.
I considered putting this information into a book because I know that these keys are crucial to understanding what is going on when you're out there on your own and the advice you're about to read is extremely valuable.
However, I feel that it is crucial to get this message out now, so it can begin helping as many people as possible as soon as possible, without anyone having to deal with the burden of another price tag.
Too many individuals are wandering, feeling lost, alone, afraid, confused, and judged. I hope you will take a moment to like, save and share this article so that it is readily available when you and others need it most.
The wilderness is a metaphor for a whole host of challenges - it is a liminal space - an in-between place where ordinary life is suspended, identity shifts, and new possibilities emerge.
The Wilderness is a place of:
It's a place of danger. There's no protection or shelter out there. There are enemies, wild animals, and bad weather. You're hungry, thirsty, afraid, and alone.
Try to solve things ourselves - or - Cling to God for support.
The word wilderness is mentioned in the bible over 325 times. To me, that suggests that we could spend the better part of a year or the majority of our lives in a wilderness situation.
Therefore it would be wise to have a little bit of information about the landscape around us and what to expect to traverse the terrain with wisdom and grace rather than wandering aimlessly, feeling forgotten and abandoned.
It's a long journey, so let's begin.
God reserves the wilderness experience for His children.
While you and your Non-Christian friend may be going through the same situation in the natural world, there is an important distinction to be made. As a Christian, you are never in it alone. You are journeying through the wilderness on your way to the promised land.
The way into the wilderness is through the water.
The wilderness is a spiritual experience that is after deliverance from bondage. Before that, you may endure a lot of pain and suffering, but it is all part of living in a dying world under the oppression of sin.
After you accept the Son of God as your personal Lord and Savior and acknowledge that you need God in your life, you qualify for a real wilderness experience.
During your wilderness experience, you can expect to learn many new things. You'll learn the difference between knowing that God is supreme on an intellectual level and discovering it spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Moses went through the Red Sea, and the water parted - Jesus went through the Jordan in baptism, and Heaven parted.
It's always God who directs us out into the wilderness, and He does so because He wants to get us to the Promised Land. The problem is that we, like the children of Israel, tend to get frustrated, start complaining, wander around, waste time, and actually turn away from God while we are out there.
Through the wilderness experience, we begin an adventure meant to open a gateway to our very core. Beyond this gateway, we can ask the most important questions of who we are and what we were created for.
It's easy to end up complaining and thinking about how green the grass is on the other side. You just want it to be over. We want the promised land. But God knows that if we try to enter into the promised land with our old ways of thinking and behaving, that we will inevitably spoil it.
He must take us through the refiner's fire.
If you don't know why you're in the wilderness, it is easy to begin asking questions like;
I have been through the wilderness a few times now, which qualifies me to write this article and help guide you.
Our baby Chipo was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2016. She celebrated her first birthday a couple of weeks before discovering that she was dangerously sick and needed to be immediately hospitalized. We went to the Emergency Room expecting to go home a couple of hours later.
I expected the nurses and Doctor to smile sweetly and send me home. Because the main symptoms I was concerned about were that my baby was crying, peeing, and thirsty. I expected them to give me that look that says, "Oh, you're such a new mom; that's what babies do. They cry, they pee, and they drink a lot. After all, it was a hot summer, and she was growing."
Suddenly nurses were piercing my baby with so many needles. She was in severe hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and needed blood work and life-saving IVs, but she was so dehydrated, despite drinking liters of water, that her little veins had collapsed, and the nurses struggled to get the IV in.
They had to try over and over again.
I'm a tough mama, but witnessing this caused me to come close to fainting several times and cut to the very depths of my heart. My vision went, my knees buckled, and the air left my lungs.
It took every ounce of strength that my husband and I had not to pick her up and get her out of there. But of course, we couldn't. They needed to get those blood samples and IVs because the wrong dose of life-saving Insulin would kill her without them.
It was a terrifying, heart-wrenching experience, and I found myself asking a lot of Why Questions.
Why would God let us go through this? What had our little baby done to deserve this? How were we going to move forward and trust God?
I constantly feared that our daughter's blood sugar would drop dangerously low, and we would lose her. After all, she couldn't talk yet; she couldn't tell us if she felt low. I slept very little. I cried a lot. Then I had to poke her poor baby fingers endlessly.
While having access to the technology was helpful, it did not mean that we were out of the woods. I still struggled to keep her blood sugar stable. Teething, growing, colds, and fevers all sent her blood sugar soaring through the roof. When other kids around us got a sniffle, and we caught it, we ended up back in the emergency room.
As our daughter learned to speak, many of her first words were related to diabetes. There were technical, medical words like bolus, insulin, and pump site with Mama and Daddy.
We need a cure, so none of our babies have to suffer from this disease. Thank God for the invention of synthetic Insulin and the God-fearing man who discovered how to use it to help others.
But what was the purpose behind all this pain and suffering?
Why does God take us to these God-awful places?
One of the primary reasons we spend time in the desert is so we can learn to pray. In our pain and fear, we cry out to God. We get down on our knees and pour our hearts out to Him. In that place of bitter weeping, we seek God. We call on Him for answers, comfort, peace, support, and guidance.
When we are in pain, we reflect on what is truly important. Superficial things lose their hold, and we go to a deeper, more intimate place with God and those around us.
Our wilderness experiences help us to see the big picture plan God has for us. Not just in this life, but in the life beyond death. It's there in the place of uncertainty and wants that we see significant spiritual growth. God uses experiential learning to help us see the parallels in our own lives and the lives of biblical characters like Moses, Hagar, and Jesus. Through our pain and suffering, we step into the stories that are shared in the Bible. This is an integral part of God's desire to have us in an apprentice-style relationship with Him.
Through these troubling times, God speaks truth to hungry souls.
You may have been walking with God for several years, and suddenly you look around only to discover that you are in unfamiliar territory. The lifestyle you had grown accustomed to, the blessings from God you were enjoying, and the helpful relationships that guided you have all vanished.
Things that used to come naturally are now a struggle. You're on the verge of losing everything. You cry out to your good friend God and ask, "What are you doing?"
Is this God, or am I under some kind of curse? Suddenly you feel angry, bitter, hurt, confused, and abandoned. You pray, but it feels like you're speaking to an empty sky.
When you're in the wilderness experience, it is common to feel like you've been abandoned. The same God who once felt so close is now so far away that you begin to wonder if He was ever really there at all. Maybe you made that whole spiritual awakening thing up in your own head.
One of the main reasons that God leads you into the wilderness is so that you can learn how to cling to God even when He appears to be absent.
It's during this time that you must go back and recall all of His promises. You need to go back to the word of God and His covenant promises and remind yourself of who is Lord of All.
When everything is stripped away, and God feels far, hold on to the Word.
This is why it's so important for Christians to have the scriptures written on our hearts.
Sometimes that is all we will have left.
“Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon His God.” (Isaiah 50:10)
“Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.” (Psalm 126:5)
I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage …” (Joshua 1:5)
“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones, not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:19-20)
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17)
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in Him I will trust, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my Savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:2)
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:23)
“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”
(Psalm 27:13-14)NIV Bible
“I have fought the good fight of faith, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day” (2 Timothy 4:7)
When struggling, it helps to know that you're being called to surrender, not strive.
If you try to persevere according to your own strength, you'll burn yourself out.
You can grumble and complain about the mana that God is feeding you, or you can thank him for nourishing your body and soul. I strongly suggest the latter.
Of course, when you're hurting and mourning, it's hard to find joy. There is no silver lining in the loss of a loved one. There's little comfort to be found in the face of death.
Hagar couldn't bear to watch her son Ishmael die in the wilderness.
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob. (Genesis 21:15 - 16 )
Maybe you're saying to yourself; it's too late. Cancer won. The car crash happened. The child died. You prayed you wept, you begged, and the answer was no.
If that's the place where you're at right now, I want to take a moment to pause and tell you how very sorry I am for your sorrow. You didn't deserve it. It wasn't fair. It wasn't God's plan.
God does not orchestrate our deepest pains. God is good, and although bad things do happen, He does not authorize them. He does not condone them. He will one day very soon turn the world upside down and pour out his judgment. But knowing that doesn't make the sorrow any lighter.
The only thing you can do is keep moving forward.
Like Naomi and Ruth, who lost all their loved ones, you've got to keep going because God's not done with you yet. He has a plan in which all things are working for your good. It may be hard to see from where you're at, but God's looking at the big picture, and He knows where He is taking you. If you hang in there, He will get you out of there.
There are some key players you're likely to encounter in the wilderness.
Moses encountered God while he was wandering around in the back hills of the Midian desert. He saw the burning bush and decided to go and check it out. It's important to know that it's not unusual to see a bush spontaneously burst into flames under the hot desert sun. That's something that would have been fascinating but not unheard of. The reason the bush caught Moses' attention was that it didn't burn up. This is what lead Moses to investigate.
Imagine for a moment where Moses might have been, emotionally.
Now, God shows up and shares the details of how He is sending Moses back to Egypt to deliver His chosen people from the hands of Pharoah. You thought things were bad before; they're about to get a lot harder.
When God steps on to the scene, don't expect things to get easier. Often He is going to turn up the heat and polish you a little more.
Thankfully, when God gives us an assignment, He also gives us helpers. God will strategically line up the right people to come alongside you and support you in your mission.
Just like Aaron was assigned to Moses, and Ruth to Naomi, helpers, are there to help you carry the load. They will come up alongside you and lift the burden off your shoulders so that you can breathe for a moment.
Even Jesus needed a helper when he was carrying the cross to Calvary. We can't win real missions and battles single-handedly. God wants us to walk in unity. With one heart. Caring for each other. Loving one another. He blesses us with those who will hold our hands, wipe our tears, cook a casserole, or just show up when things fall apart.
Helpers are part of God's plan to comfort and bless us during times of trial and difficulty. They are evidence that we are not alone.
It can be tempting to try and push other people away because our pain is too great, but if we are wise, we will remain open to the love that God is trying to minister to us through those around us.
Many people encounter angels in the wilderness. They tend to appear to redirect us, minister to us, or bring a message from God.
Some examples include;
Angels ministering to Christ after His temptation by the Devil.
"Then the Devil left Him, and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him" (Matthew 4:11).
Some situations are beyond human comfort. In special circumstances, God will send angels to minister to the brokenhearted. Sometimes we see them as strangers who come alongside us to bless us in a highly unusual way. Sometimes we can only sense their presence.
The wilderness is Satan's backyard. This is where he has more power, authority, and persuasion. You can most definitely expect to see him and his demons anytime you're out and about in the wilderness.
He will show up with temptations and accusations. His only goal is to get you so far off course that you have no idea which way is up. He will use every trick in the book to try and get you to deny God, deny who you are in Christ, and surrender your power and authority over the forces of evil.
Make sure that, like Jesus, you're armed with the word of God so that when this fiery foe shows up, you have the wisdom to be able to sidestep his temptations.
The Devil is only there to tempt you to turn from God during your hardest times. So hold fast to your love for God and don't let Satan paint a picture of despair in your heart.
We just learned that Satan shows up in the wilderness to try to get us off track, and that's a very successful tactic because one thing we want more than anything is to get out of the wilderness and any shortcut to the Promised land will look extremely tempting.
God designed a unique path for each of us. He wants to guide us step by step so that He can purify our hearts and strengthen our faith to prosper in the Promised land.
If you try to shortcut your way to the end, you only get further lost down winding roads that go nowhere.
This is why it took the Israelites 40 years to get through the desert. Sometimes we're not ready for the healing. Sometimes we're not ready to let go of the past.
One of the surest paths out is often the hardest. To forgive those who have hurt us.
Failing to do so can cause us to lose precious time and many years of our lives wandering through swamps of sorrow, pits of grief, and pools of pain.
God does not want us to dwell in the desert forever. In fact, one of the primary reasons He sent His Son to us was to give us the most direct path through the wilderness.
"I am the way the truth and the light, No one comes to the Father except through me"(John 14:6)
Jesus came to make the mountains low and the crooked path straight. We have a personal guide right in our hearts.
The wilderness experience can and should be a blessing.
You train, grow stronger, and become empowered in the dry places,
When you enter the Promised land, be sure to make good use of everything you learned during your wilderness experience
If you're a woman going through your season of singleness in the wilderness I would like to invite you to check out my free relationship starter course.
This 3 part mini-course will help you find comfort and hope no matter where you are in your journey towards marriage.
In this FREE Course, you're going to learn:
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