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I Am With You in the Wilderness

Enuma Okoro

We are bound to have days, weeks, and months when life is not happening the way we had hoped, dreamed, or imagined. Maybe the person you thought loved you broke your heart. Maybe a friend betrayed you, and now you don’t know whom to trust.

Maybe you can’t seem to fit in at school or you are struggling with classes. Maybe stuff’s going on in your family that you don’t think anyone else would understand. The wilderness in our lives can look like any number of circumstances; but in the wilderness, we usually feel lonely, isolated, hopeless, and kind of scared. We may struggle with our faith as we try to make sense of what’s happening in our lives. We may feel that we are the only ones trudging through the wilderness while the lives of our friends seem more like beach resorts.

Find comfort and reassurance in remembering that everyone goes through seasons of wilderness. Jesus Christ knows exactly how we feel because he’s been in the wilderness too. Many people of faith have struggled through the wilderness. We can learn from them ways to cope and what surprising gifts we can expect to find. Yes, if we keep our eyes open and our focus on God, the wilderness will reveal gifts.

footprints in desert2 FF ID-10034793 copyWhen we think of the wilderness, we assume that it is a space of scarcity, desolation, and dryness, with little to offer us. But scripture suggests a divinely inspired way to rethink this image. God has a surprising way of showing up in the wilderness and blessing us with nourishing words and renewed spirits. We could think of our wilderness as a place where God reminds us that God is our redeemer, protector, provider, sustainer—the one in whom we can trust.

When Jesus was in the wilderness, God provided angels to care for his needs (Mark 1:13). When the prophet Elijah was depressed and afraid, God made sure he had food to eat and a place to get some rest (1 Kings 17). When Moses and the Israelites were wandering through the wilderness, God met all their needs (Exodus 16–17). When John the Baptist was in the wilderness, God prepared him for the future (Matthew 3:1–6). The challenges of the wilderness are real, and they can be painful. But God’s loving care and provision always have the last word. We are never as alone as we imagine. Even flowers grow in dry cracked places. Love is persistent, and God’s love wins.

 

DIG DEEPER

Lizzie feet 2Read Matthew 3:13–4:25, the story of Jesus’ time in the wilderness. Then think about your own life. Where do you experience wilderness?

Draw the wilderness in your life. Consider: Where or what are thorns and bristles? Where or what is water in the wilderness? What is scorching sun? What provides shade? What are desert flowers or signs of life? Who are the angels?

Look at your drawing. Think about where God has shown up in your wilderness journey. In what ways is God present through people or circumstances?

Enuma Okoro is a writer, speaker, and communications consultant.

—from devozine (July/August 2014). Copyright © 2014 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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