The wilderness to you as a Christian represents a place that God has to mold you to prepare you for what is ahead. – Martha Macharia
There came a time when the children of Israel were facing difficult circumstances as they were living in Egypt. They started crying out to God because of their situation. In Exodus 3:8, God said he would deliver them from Egypt and take them to a land flowing with milk and honey. This same land had other groups living in it namely the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizites, Hivites, and Jebusites. In order for them to be moved to the Promised Land, they had to go through a process.
Every finished product has a process it went through.
The process God allows us to go through is important because it teaches us important lessons. The enemy is still going to try and destroy us in a place of abundance. His agenda of killing, stealing and destroying does not change. In order to be able to handle increase, whether it is a raise at work or elevation of whichever kind, we have to go through a process otherwise the abundance we find ourselves in can become a source of misery instead of a source of blessings. One day I was watching a show called “the curse of the lottery”. I remember a man who won a lot of money from the lottery. He was a Christian. He did not spend the money wisely and him and his wife started experiencing marital problems. Then he had an affair and at some point his wife was tired of his ways so she filed for a divorce. That man committed suicide. That money would have been a blessing but instead it finished him. Very sad ending. In the same show, they brought a man and his wife who had won the lottery. They travelled to many places they had never been in the world however, they saved a lot of their money for their children and grandchildren. They also maintained their monthly budget as it was before. I don’t know why these two stories are so different but I know that it is important to go through a process before being elevated.
What is the wilderness? The wilderness is a place where one goes through difficult circumstances that cause a certain level of discomfort in order to make one a better person.
The bible states in Exodus 13:17 that God led the children of Israel through the wilderness yet there was a shorter route to get to Canaan. Why did he do that? Don’t you think it is strange that God would have them go through what seems as a more difficult longer route? God knew that if they went through the land of the Philistines, they would face war, a situation which would have discouraged them. God knew they were not ready for war. They needed time to become an organized nation fit for war. God always knows what he is doing. What you are going through may appear strange but not to God because he is aware of what you need therefore he creates a training ground specifically custom made for you so that you can learn what you need to learn in order to become who you were created to be.
In Exodus 1:12, the bible says, “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel.” Here the bible is talking about the way the Egyptians treated the Israelites. The more they were hard on them, the more they multiplied and grew. The wilderness cannot stop you from growing unless you abandon the process. The more you go through affliction, the more you grow.
“When Satan choreographs difficult circumstances in our lives, it is not just to inflict pain; it is for the purpose of destroying our trust in God.” – Dr. David Jeremiah.
What does the wilderness experience do for us?
- We don’t go through difficult situations for God’s benefit but for our own. In order to become a doctor, one has to endure medical school. In order to become the best business man or woman, one has to work hard and go through some difficulties before becoming successful. When a single woman get married to a godly Christian man out of her place of waiting, then she benefits and vice versa. When one gets a good job because he/she persevered through school, then he/she benefits. God wants the best for us.
- The wilderness is a place where we learn patience through perseverance. Patience is an important character trait. Without patience, things do not go right. Have you ever seen a person who lacks self-control? I can look back in my life and say, that through hardships, I have become a more patient person than I used to be. The bible says in Proverbs 16:32 that a patient person is better than a warrior. When we lack patience, we look for ways to get out of the process. When it is too hot, we give up and jump out. The problem is we sabotage the process. This is not a good thing for us. We have to patiently wait for God to lead us through it.
- The wilderness is a place of learning how to trust and depend on God. The children of Israel had to learn how to trust in God. God was their provider. He gave them water, manna and meat every day. This is one of the hardest lessons to learn as a believer because we always want to see a lot of money in our accounts, lots of food in our fridge etc. It is important to learn to trust God on a daily basis.
- A place of Preparation. The children of Israel had a task ahead of them. In order to settle in the Promise Land, they had to learn how to fight. In Exodus 17:8-16, they had to fight against the Amalekites. They needed to know that God would fight their battles for them. They needed courage to face the giants and the enemies that would fight hard to stay in their own lands. In your place of abundance, the enemy is still present. You don’t leave him in your wilderness. You will find certain challenges waiting for you but you will have the tools needed to overcome those challenges.
- It is also a place you learn compassion. I am compassionate towards people in need. Towards orphans and widows. That is a burden the Lord has given me. Having said that, there are some ministries toward people in need that are birthed out of experience. I was listening to a widow who went through such difficulty after her husband died. Her husband’s family took her to court because they said she had bewitched their son. This is after she had been hospitalized for a number of months due to injuries from her late husband’s attempt to kill her. As she was recovering in hospital, her in-laws went to her home and took everything including her bed. Because of her experience, she started a ministry that helps not only widows but bartered women. So the Lord can allow a wilderness for the sake of others. So that you can become a voice for others in the society.
- A place of learning and unlearning. God gave Moses the law in the wilderness. The children of Israel had certain practices that they had picked up from Egypt and God had to teach them who He was and what was expected of them. They had picked up idol worship from Egypt and that is why it came naturally to create a golden calf. They needed to change that. They also needed a change of mindset from victim/slave mentality to a victorious mindset. This is why ten spies out of twelve sent by Moses said in Numbers 13:33, “We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” They needed a mindset change. They were in bondage and going through the wilderness was a way to free them from bondage. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire, the bible says that the only thing that was different was the chains that held them were burned. Through the wilderness, God delivers us from certain destructive mindsets that would deter us from accomplishing what we need to do in the future.
- A place of Humility. The bible says that God resists the proud. God loves humility. He is pleased when we are humble. Have you ever come across someone who brags? How long will you be able to listen to that person? Pride is an ugly thing. Humility is a key that opens many doors for us. There was a king called Uzziah. The bible says because of pride, he decided to enter the temple and burn incense. The only people who were allowed according to God’s law were the priests but because of his pride, he did what he was not supposed to do. His pride would not allow him to repent and immediately he got leprosy. He had to be confined in his own house until the day he died. The wilderness humbles us but we have to keep being humble even when we are successful because it is the grace, favor and mercies of God that have carried us to success.
How do you go through the wilderness successfully?
- Remember it is only for a season. Ecclesiastes 3:1 states, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven”
- Trust that God knows what He is doing.
- Don’t complain. God does not like it when we complain.
- Walk in obedience.
- Focus and magnify the positive. The children of Israel could not focus on God’s provision therefore they were easily overtaken by what they were going through.
- Study the Word of God.
- Pray and ask those who you trust to pray for you.