A spiritual wilderness does not have to be a negative time if we are eager to obey God. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but the desert’s purpose is quite positive: to train, purify, strengthen, and prepare us for a new move of God’s Spirit, resulting in us becoming more fruitful.
Unknowingly, when entering the wilderness, many people panic and behave unwisely. Without understanding, they search for and do the wrong things. An example might be a radical change in career or changing from one church to another—any drastic move in their life that they think will bring instant happiness or restore what was normal. For a single person, it might be leaping toward a new relationship after the hurt of a painful breakup.
If you search for an escape route before understanding why God has you in a particularly dry situation, you unwittingly prolong your wilderness time. This may cause more hardship, frustration, and even defeat, because you don’t understand the season or the place to which God has led you.
This was the case with the children of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness. What was to be a one-year wilderness journey became a lifetime experience. Ouch! A lack of understanding of what was happening to them caused an entire generation to be unfit to inherit the Promised Land.
God’s purpose in leading the children of Israel into the wilderness was to test, train, and prepare them to be mighty warriors able to capture and occupy their divine promise—a new homeland. But instead, the children of Israel erroneously perceived the wilderness as punishment, so they murmured, complained, and lusted constantly.
How tragic! If we can learn to recognize when we have entered a wilderness experience, we can avoid complaining and be thankful that beyond this place is a “Promised Land” of new maturity, power, blessing, opportunity, and fulfilled promise.
How have you viewed your wilderness season?