Typically, we don’t appreciate desert experiences in our lives. But sometimes God takes us to the desert so we can find the freedom we’ve been looking for all of our lives. Sometimes God lets us go through tough circumstances created by Satan or by other people. And God uses even those hard circumstances to help us grow. But no matter how we get to the wilderness, God’s purpose is to call us into a deeper relationship of love. There’s a passage in the bible that tells exactly what the desert does for us. Romans 5:3-4: “We rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Think about your life for just a minute. Has God ever taken you to the desert, to try to give you the freedom you long for? And if He has, how have you responded to your time in the desert? Have you learned to yield to God? Have you learned the freedom that comes with submission? Being in the desert creates endurance in your life. If you’ve been on a car trip with your kids, you know there’s one question your kids will always ask. They will ask it soon, and they will ask it often, and they usually ask it in a whiny voice. It’s a question that gets to be like fingernails scraping across a blackboard. “Are we there yet?” Now it would be nice if our kids would never ask the question. But we know that learning to be patient comes with maturity.
That’s what it means to be a disciple. Discipleship is learning the lesson of endurance that comes from the desert. So that we can find joy in our lives and be everything God wants us to be! Did you know that the number 40 is often associated with the wilderness in the bible? Elijah was an Old Testament prophet who spent 40 days in the wilderness. Jesus spent 40 days in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry. The people of Israel were freed from slavery after spending 400 years in bondage. But once they got out of Egypt, guess what? They complained. So God took the people of Israel into the wilderness for 40 years. Life begins at 40!
Sometimes God takes us to the desert because he wants us to learn the lesson of obedience. Do you realize that even Jesus learned from his time in the desert? Hebrews 5:8 says, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered…” Jesus never sinned. But Jesus learned endurance and maturity and obedience from the suffering he experienced. And we can, too.
The desert is where you face the test of endurance. Maybe you’re thinking about getting into a relationship that would dishonor God and destroy your life. You know you need to honor God, but you’re just tired of waiting. Maybe you have a difficult person in your life. Someone who mistreats you or pushes you around or makes your life hard. Maybe you’ve wrestled over and over with the same sin. And you feel like giving up. Maybe your marriage seems like a desert. Your marriage might seem like a desert experience, but don’t give up!
Could I encourage you to do something? Could I encourage you to keep on going, even in the middle of your desert experience? Could I encourage you to trust God to do good things even in the wilderness? Even in the wilderness? To realize that when you endure, God is leading you to freedom? Being in the desert creates endurance in your life. Discipleship is about endurance.