Walking in the Wilderness: A Purposeful Lesson in Waiting
“And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord…” Deuteronomy 8:2-3
The years of wandering and waiting are a gracious gift from God. God knows what we need and He also knows how desperately we need it. We rarely know our need, and even more rarely do we recognize our utter dependence on God to provide for it. We have many needs, but our greatest need is a saving knowledge of God that results in no longer leaning on ourselves but in wholly leaning on Him. God is willing to take whatever time is necessary to mature us.
In the lives of His people, God uses the wilderness to humble them. Through hardship, He patiently confronts their self-sufficiency and pride. Out of love, He also reveals to them the depth of sinfulness that resides in their hearts. Instead of leaving them deluded by their sin, He exposes the darkness that was previously hidden to them. Through testing, His people would not only be purified from sin but they would also be strengthened in faith.
As a result of His provision for their physical hunger, He teaches the Israelites that He alone has the ability to satisfy their spiritual hunger. As the One who provided manna (“bread from heaven”), He would later provide the Bread of Life—His very own Son. Those who, by faith, received God’s provision of manna were preserved to live another day. In faith, many of them would experience the saving work that God intended to unveil at the fullness of time. Every moment of the journey through the wilderness was purposeful. In order for Him to be their God, and for them to be His people, they needed to learn how to turn from sin and place their trust completely on Him.
May we persevere in the wilderness(es) through which God takes us. As we endure, may we trust God to humble our pride, test our hearts, and show us His faithfulness! The waiting is not easy, but it’s worth it. God teaches us how much we are dependent upon Him, because He intends to provide for our every need. As you wait, may you humbly seek the Lord in prayer, His word, and the company of His children who know Him best. They will help keep your heart hopeful and lifted during times of trial.
“The Lord passed before Moses and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.'” Exodus 34:6-8
In Christ, we see both God’s steadfast love and faithfulness, as well as His wrath and justice regarding sin. May we find our comfort in the person of Christ as we journey through the wilderness and wait for God to guide us.