Have you ever been in a wilderness? It’s not an ideal place for us to be, is it?
I looked up the definition of a wilderness and it said, “An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.” I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly strike me as the sort of place that I would pick to be in.
When I think of a wilderness, I think of someplace that is dry, hot, and desolate. I see someplace that is inhabited by dangerous animals and other critters maybe wishing you harm. If you were to ask pretty much anyone, they would say that a wilderness would not be their ideal vacation spot.
Sometimes, spiritually speaking, we find ourselves in the wilderness and we do not like it one bit. The wilderness is a lonely place to be. Why would God lead us to the wilderness? It doesn’t make sense, but have you ever thought about the fact that sometimes we desperately need the wilderness in our lives?
I have been reading through the book of Hosea, and there is a section of verses that got me thinking about the benefits of being in the wilderness.
I found it interesting that God said He would lead them into the wilderness, but then also that it would cause Israel to sing just like in the days when God led them out of Egypt. Now I know what you are thinking. Israel didn’t exactly have a great track record of being content in the wilderness, did they? If you read through the history of their journey through the wilderness for forty years, you would see that it is a constant roller coaster of ups and downs. In one chapter they are praising God for His goodness to them, and then the next chapter they are complaining that God led them into the wilderness.
In Exodus 14:12 it says, “Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.”
These were the people who had literally just watched God unleash the ten plagues on Egypt to cause Pharaoh to let them go! You would think that they would remember what they had witnessed God do and trust that He had a plan for them in the wilderness. Before we start talking about how dumb the Israelites were though, aren’t we the exact same way? How many times have you witnessed God do miraculous things in your life, yet when He leads you into the wilderness, you refuse to trust His plan? I know that I am guilty of doubting His plan in the wilderness.
Later, after God miraculously delivers Israel from Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea, we see that Israel is singing God’s praises. I absolutely love reading chapter 15 of Exodus. You can just feel the relief and joy that Israel is feeling over watching God move in such a mighty way on their behalf!
But wait. Wasn’t the wilderness a place Israel didn’t want to be? Didn’t they complain that God had brought them there? Weren’t they the ones accusing God of leading them into the wilderness just to kill them?
What if Israel had never been led into the wilderness? They would never have seen God’s mighty acts. They would never have experienced the joy of singing His praises in the wilderness.
Sometimes, just like Israel, God leads us through the wilderness. Sometimes he chooses a path for our lives that is lonely, desolate, and painful, but it is all a part of His masterplan. If we spend our time complaining to God about how he led us into the wilderness, then we will be missing all of the opportunities to sing his praises in the wilderness. If we spend our time focusing more on the wilderness that God led us to more than we do focusing on the God who led us there, then we will miss out on the blessing of seeing His hand move in mighty ways.
Maybe you are in a wilderness that God has led you to. Are you spending your time complaining about the wilderness, or are you spending it praising the God who led you there? Sometimes it’s through the pain and loneliness of the wilderness that God brings us closer to him. Maybe you need to learn to be content in the wilderness. I know that I need to!
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:6