Wilderness Season: A time of spiritual, emotional, or financial drought, that could be paired with intensified temptation and/or spiritual attack. Not always indicative of sin, but often a period of God-ordained testing.
I used to wonder how I ended up in the wilderness. I was reading all the “Christian books,” going to all the church services, and marking out my daily QT (quiet time) with the Lord like a boss. Yet, there I was…in the wilderness.
And folks, I was not inactively sitting there waiting to be rescued, I was fighting.
Fighting to keep my joy, wrestling to maintain my peace, and desperate to experience, encounter, and HEAR from the Lord in that place of seclusion and spiritual heaviness.
Yet, heaven seemed silent, and I asked God question after question attempting to understand my predicament with little to no response from above.
Why do You “feel” so far all of a sudden?
What did I do wrong?
WHY am I “HERE”?
How long will this last?!
*And the complaints disguised as inquiries continued*
As I struggled through these questions one day and basked in my nice little pity party, I decided to scroll through Facebook to “forget” about my worries momentarily. Within seconds, I ran across a sermon by Robert Madu entitled “The Water and The Wilderness.”
Ladies and Gentleman…in case you were wondering.
There is a God.
And He most definitely heard my cry for help, because the moment I pressed play, answers to my questions began to flow and I began to see my situation differently.
Robert Madu opened up his sermon by reading about Jesus’s powerful baptism by John.
Let me drop it for you right here:
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. –Mark 1:9-13a (ESV)
Did you just read, what I just read?
Jesus went from the water directly into the wilderness…and THE SPIRIT LED HIM THERE.
As Robert Madu stated, there was no chapter break. No pause. God just straight up expedited Him into a period of seclusion and a time of testing.
One moment He was hearing the voice of heaven, and the next moment the voice of hell.
One moment He was being comforted, and the next moment He was in the midst of conflict.
One moment He was hearing the water and the Word, and the next moment he was having warfare in the wilderness.
Yes, that’s right.
“The approval of heaven doesn’t absolve you from the attack of the enemy.” –R.M“The approval of heaven doesn’t absolve you from the attack of the enemy.” –R.M Click To Tweet
Let that sink in.
As I listened to him preach on this topic, I felt the weight of being in the wilderness lift off of me.
I realized that I wasn’t “in the wilderness” because of wrong actions.
Or because God was displeased with me.
Or because the enemy was playing his games per usual.
But because God had led me there with purpose.
When Jesus was driven into the wilderness, He was being prepared for three years of ministry unlike the world had ever seen. Miracles. Signs. Wonders. Deliverance. SALVATIONS upon SALVATIONS. His time in the wilderness was necessary. It was there that He fully submitted Himself to the mission of saving mankind, and prepared Himself to bear the weight of what was to come.
So what does that mean for me? For you? For all of the believers who find themselves dropped in the wilderness without warning?
It means that we must embrace this season and rejoice…because in the valley and wilderness, we grow the most. It is in the wilderness that our ears are most attuned to the voice and direction of heaven. Because let’s be honest, when we are having mountaintop experiences, we are more susceptible to forget about God. We are more susceptible to falsely believe that we can “do life” on our own. We are more susceptible to be carried away with our fleshly desires.
Since God’s ultimate goal is to conform us into His image, He uses time in the wilderness to purge us of our prideful flesh and refocus our attentions on Him.Since God’s ultimate goal is to conform us into His image, He uses time in the wilderness to purge us of our prideful flesh and refocus our attentions on Him. Click To Tweet
So if you’ve found yourself in the wilderness wandering, here are FOUR tips to navigate the season you’re in:
1. Let your memories serve as memorials.
What the wilderness season is producing in you (strengthened character, faith, new vision, and hope) gives you a reason to rejoice, but sometimes it’s just flat out DIFFICULT to celebrate it in the midst of the process. In order to combat this, think back to situations in the past where God brought you through turbulent times and lifted you up in the process. He is that same God and He will do it again (cue “Do It Again” by Elevation Worship). Continue to dwell on those moments and allow those memories to strengthen you NOW.
2. Fight temptation with the Word.
The wilderness can be a season of exponential growth, but it can also be a period of unrelenting attack. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness He was hungry, isolated, and tired—and that’s exactly when the enemy chose to creep in. However, Jesus stood ready and armed to go to war with the enemy. He fought back with the Word and it was legit the best clap back of allllll time (you can read about it in Matthew 4:1-11).
What does that mean for us? In order to tackle the temptation to give in or give up in our weariness, we have to KNOW GOD’S WORD. The Word is your weapon when there is WARFARE! So instead of complaining, giving into the enemy’s lies, and questioning your life circumstances, dig into the WORD of GOD and tackle temptation with truth.
3. Allow God to refresh you.
After Jesus was tempted, he remained in the wilderness, but God sent a host of angels to come and minister to Him.
“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.” -Matthew 4:11
Remember that your help comes from God. As a born-again believer, you have been given the precious gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a comforter, advocate, intercessor, counselor, and strengthener and through Him you have direct access to peace, joy, and all that you need to make it through this season.
AND not just make it through, but learn, grow, and come out better, empowered, and ready to take on the dreams, visions, and desires God has placed in you. Pray for refreshing and revitalization from the Holy Spirit and be prepared to receive all that God pours out.
4. Hold on to the truth that this season is NOT in vain.
Friend, this is not the end, but the beginning of something beautiful.
Actively pursue the Lord in this season and watch Him work wonders in your heart.
He IS preparing you and positioning you in the wilderness, and soon He’ll be propelling you forward to apply what you’ve learned to minister to those around you.
Remember what Peter said in 1 Peter 5:10?
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
The wilderness isn’t forever, but what He’s producing in you is eternal.
You will be strong.
You will be firm.
You will be steadfast.
Stay the course, my friend, stay the course.
Danielle Sarbo is an alumni of Liberty University. She received her Master of Arts in Religion: Leadership Studies and is passionate about teaching, equipping, and empowering the Body of Christ. When she is not reading or writing, you will find her preparing for her next weekend get-away to a new city or coffeeshop hopping around her hometown. She would love to connect with you!