“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor (trouble) as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
What are we to make of the wilderness? The language of scripture is beautiful and poetic, but there is real suffering in the afflictions of the wilderness. Why does God draw us through trials? How are we to respond?
There are specific seasons of the soul that we become aware of our own barrenness under the pressures of life circumstances. And there are periods that God seems to be distant, though He is never truly far away. Indeed He is closer than a brother; His Holy Spirit dwells within the heart of the believer and is all around us. It is His discernible presence that seems far at times.
The wilderness is the place that Israel journeyed through before they entered into the promised land. The Shulamite at the end of the Song of Solomon is seen coming out of the wilderness leaning upon her beloved. John the Baptist was in the wilderness for 30 years before his ministry began. It is where Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to be tested by Satan.
As we look through the scriptures and throughout the history of lives devoted to God; we see that the way of God is the wilderness. The goal of life is simple; it is to grow in loving God and loving others. Everything God does is maturing us in love. God removes all of the props in our lives. He shatters our pride and self sufficiency. How meager and useless our own strength is. God brings us into weakness, that His strength would be at work within our frame.
Understanding the purpose is a huge part of thriving in the wilderness. I have recently felt overwhelmed with situations in my life happening at once. While I was in the prayer room, we were praying through God’s purpose in leading us through wilderness and one of the singers caught a phrase, “I don’t want to waste this season.” This prayer really impacted my heart. I am tempted to complain or to ignore what is happening, but God has purpose. For me to respond rightly, I have to understand what He is after.
If it all comes down to love; then that is what He is looking for in me. The right response is to love God and love looks like obeying His commandments. Obeying Jesus’ commandments looks like loving my neighbor. It is easy to spend time with God when I can feel Him, but it works a muscle of faith when I don’t feel Him. It is easy to love others when I feel blessed, but it works a muscle of faith to show love when I feel hurt. Every small movement of obedience in the midst of opposition builds up endurance and faith.
This is not speaking of a labor in our own ability. The wilderness strips away all of our own strength and resources. All that is left is Christ; clinging to His word becomes an anchor of the soul. We find the richness of “fellowship” with Jesus in His suffering. He left His throne to come low and be accessible to us. Though He is now at the right hand of the Father He left His handprint on our souls; He gave us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us. The humanity of God in Christ and the working of His Holy Spirit are our stability when the world is shaking.
By grace and through faith in Christ we emerge victorious out of the wilderness. If you are under pressures in life, feeling your own weakness, and experiencing the silence; be of courage. God is with you, He is drawing you into deeper intimacy and leading you into victory. This is the process of maturing in love. Respond to this season with seeking His heart. Devote real time to simply waiting in His presence. What are you to do in the waiting? Simply rest in Christ; meditate upon His word, sing praise with your mouth, abide in His love.
In the wilderness, The Lord is drawing out a song of hope from deep within your heart.