Are you experiencing wilderness living? I’m not talking about a survival challenge where one willingly goes into the wilderness to test their mental and physical endurance. This wilderness experience is usually thought of as a tough time in which a believer endures discomfort and trials. We are unable to enjoy the pleasant things of life.
Similarly, this new decade (2020) is testing both our mental and physical endurance. The stress and strain on our emotional health is unbelievable. The combined effect of the health pandemic, racial strife and financial strain is unrelenting. As a result, we have seen our lives played out like a bad dream repeated on a continuous loop.
I was encouraged when Michelle Obama shared her personal struggle with mild depression. Her transparency and vulnerability are character strengths we can model during these difficult times. In the same vein Israel needed support to help them successfully navigate wilderness living.
God revealed during wilderness living
Captivity was Israel’s “wilderness experience.” The nation was away from their land, their temple, and most importantly, their God. Therefore, God, through His prophet Isaiah, sent words of consolation to Israel during their wilderness experience. He promised to do a new thing (Is. 43:16-19).
New in Hebrew means to renew, rebuild, or repair. Most certainly, people today need these three actions during times of uncertainty and chaos. Our minds need to be renewed from the the insanity of the world (Rom. 12:1-2). Our relationships need to be rebuilt and repaired (Rom. 12:17-18). We are divided on so many things. Therefore, Satan uses these differences to further polarize us and negate Jesus’ mandate to love one another (Matt. 5:43-44).
Because of His love for Israel, God promised He would not only renew, rebuild, and repair what was loss during the exile, but also do the impossible. “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring and my blessing on your descendants” (Isaiah 44:3). In other words, God would revive Israel physically and spiritually.
Facing wilderness living
Wilderness living is different for everyone. For example, for some people wilderness living may be relational—failed, estranged, or disappointing relationships. For others the experience may be professional—finding the right vocation or personal significance. But for some, wilderness living may be experiential—moments of personal loss, loneliness, or misfortune. No two wildernesses are the same.
Likewise our spirit man may also feel strained. What is God doing in the world and in our lives? We may feel alone and isolated. We may even think God has left us and no longer hears our prayers. Is God with us in our wilderness? He answers, “Yes!” It’s in His Word (Ps. 91:15; Isa.43:2; Isa. 49:15).
Living in the wilderness
Above all, regardless of the type of wilderness experience, we can trust God. We can relinquish control to God’s sovereign will and His steadfast love. God is for us and He cares about everything that keeps us awake at night—our family, our provision, and our future. God will sustain us. In short, while we have no forecast as to when and if our world will ever be the same again, we have the blessed assurance that God is with us. (Ps. 119:116)
After our wilderness experience
Through our wilderness experience God can renew, rebuild, and repair our lives (Ps. 130:5). As we strengthen our intimacy with Him, we will find true happiness, contentment, and peace (Rev. 21:7). God can do that for us individually. Likewise, He can also do that for our nation.
God can do the impossible and bring us back to a healthy, vigorous and flourishing condition (Isa. 40:31). We may not look the same but because of God, we will be better because of our experience in the wilderness (Job 23:10).