Deuteronomy 8:2-3. 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. 3 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.
Israel spent forty years wandering in the wilderness. Why? The easy answer is because of their sin. But the deeper answer is because God cares so much about our hearts that he would actively lead us into the wilderness in order to train our hearts to love him. He would actively humble and test us in order to reveal what is in our hearts. He would actively let us hunger in order to teach us to hunger for him.
Are you in the wilderness? As Christians, we are no longer in Egypt as slaves to sin, and we are not yet in the Promised Land of Heaven. So where does that leave us? The wilderness.
What does your wilderness look like? Job loss? Relational pain? Singleness? Marriage? Divorce? Abuse? Addiction? Depression? Anxiety? Financial hardship? Ministry ineffectiveness? Caring for an elderly parent? Childhood cancer? Shattered dreams? Shame?
Our usual response to our wilderness is to pray that God would lead us out of it. Prosperity preachers tell us that the wilderness is not God’s will for our life. But Deuteronomy, and Jesus, tell us something different. It is God who brought the Israelites into the wilderness to humble and test them. God wanted them to be hungry. And it was God who led Jesus into the wilderness to test him. God wanted Jesus to be hungry. And it is God who has led you into the wilderness to humble and test you. God wants you to be hungry too.
But why? Why does God actively lead us into the wilderness? Why does God actively make our souls hungry? Why does he withhold the things that our hearts long for? Why doesn’t he just conjure up the things we want? Here’s why:
To know what was in your heart….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.
In the wilderness, God is giving us something far better than what we think our hearts desire. He is giving us a view into our hearts. We need to know what we’re worshiping, where the object of our faith lies. We need to know what we really need. We need to be constantly reminded that God alone will feed our hearts with his love.
You might be thinking, “OK, if the wilderness is a test, then I’m failing.” You’re right. We all are. That’s why Jesus was led into the wilderness for us. He was tested and tempted in our place. And that testing took him all the way to the cross. Jesus lived by the word of God and he died by the word of God.
And Jesus was raised to become that Word. The living Word of God. God’s final word of grace and love. God’s living declaration of his covenant with us. His soul satisfying joy and peace. Jesus is the bread of life we all truly hunger for, and by the forgiveness of the cross our hearts are now open to receive him.
You see, the wilderness isn’t a test to see if you’ll get it all right. It’s a test to see if you’ll trust your Savior, Jesus and HIS righteousness. The wilderness is a gift of God’s grace, and it is God’s love for us that leads us there. For it is there that our hearts are exposed by our hunger. It is there that we find Jesus waiting with his infinite love and grace wanting to truly satisfy our heart’s desires. It is in the wilderness that we find that Jesus is more precious to us than anything this temporal world can offer. It is in the wilderness that “to live is Christ.”
What does your wilderness look like today? What are you hungering for?
You in Christ
How has your union with Christ been satisfying you lately?
Christ in you
What might today look like if you lived fully satisfied in Christ?
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