Who here is walking through a spiritual wilderness?
More often than not, when scripture references “wilderness” or “desert,” the original language defines it as “waste, wilderness, desolate place, desert, uninhabited land.” Examples include Exodus 19:1, Isaiah 43:19, Isaiah 35:1-10, Matthew 4:1, and Hosea 2:14, to name just a few. Often times, believers will describe difficult seasons of life as wilderness or desert seasons. Basically, these seasons describe a time in life when desires of the heart aren't being realized or fulfilled. And not like "I want to win a million dollars" desires. Good and pure desires like "I want to get married," "I want to have children," "I want to make a difference with my work," "I want to provide for my family," "I want to live in community," "I want to have good health," and so forth. The wilderness usually feels or looks like a season of lack, hardship, pain, suffering, and bewilderment. To each believer the wilderness may be different, but two things are generally always true: one, the person's reality does not resemble their desires, and two, it’s hard.
There are so many stories in scripture about the wilderness. It occurs often. In fact the word is used close to 300 times throughout the bible. That’s a lot. If it is used with such frequency and the “wandering in wilderness season” happens to so many people in the bible and so many believers today, I have to guess it’s a large part of any believer’s journey to wholeness. That sentence may seem ironic because the wilderness season feels like a season of bleeding, right? How could pain and hardship lead to wholeness?
God's work mysterious. His ways are higher than our ways. Our wilderness leads to wholeness because God doesn’t waste anything, including hardship. He “works all things for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28). The life of the believer is a process of sanctification. God is after intimacy. But intimacy isn't a product of purely frothy times. Marriage is the greatest example. The longer Kenton and I do life together, the more we see both beauty and ashes in our lives and marriage. Due to the hardships and the good times, our bond is stronger than it's ever been. There will be seasons of both beauty and brokenness to get to intimacy. And because I know God desires closeness with me, I know God will use whatever occurs in my life to bless me, because ultimately, the best thing I can have in this life is more of him. The wilderness is a blessing.
I know this because I am in a wilderness season.
I am in a season of wandering in the desert.
I have always known that I wanted to write to encourage people, to encourage you. It's just how God made me. I love to teach people truth as God teaches it to me. And honestly I’ve been in a place for several years that has made me feel like I don’t have it in me to pour out because of my own lack. My wilderness season has left me feeling like I don't have any energy or insight to spare. Wilderness can do that, leave you parched.
But, recently I decided I want to write from within the season because goodness knows you might be here too. I’m not on the other side yet. Not all of the questions have been answered. I’m still in the desert. For me it’s been a season of healing, waiting, and honestly, pain. And I’m not out yet. Are you here too?
So I wanted you to know that I’m also in a wilderness season, and that it's normal and good. I want to say to you from within my desert season that I know God is using this for my good and his glory. I say to you from within the hardship, within the waiting, within the pain, that I trust God has something more beautiful planned for my life than I do.
It was a daring thought when I felt God whisper that I could encourage you about your wilderness season while I’m still in my own. I'm parched remember? Shouldn't I be strong and confident about life before I try to encourage other people? Not according to 2 Corinthians 12:9. Anyway, declaring God’s goodness while in a season of suffering is, I think, the definition of trust and the truest act of worship. And I'm not suffering, my needs are met. But there are a lot of people who are suffering. But my season is hard and can be painfully bewildering at times. But God is worthy of praise regardless what my day to day looks like, and no pain or suffering, no waiting or wanting, and certainly no Enemy will take that away from me.
I want that for you, too. God is good in your life no matter your circumstances. I don’t know what your wilderness is, but I know He is with you in it and He won’t waste it.
In Exodus 14, right after Moses lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, the people became afraid because they were stuck between the Red Sea and the Egyptians who were coming up behind them. They were facing a really bad reality. While they were in the middle of this horrible situation, Moses said this:
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today… The Lord will fight for you, you need only be silent.”