The Wilderness Experience

After a person truly turns to Christ and receives the assurance of God’s forgiveness for their past sins, there is usually a short period of joy and blessing where everything seems so wonderful and new! During this period answers to prayer come easily, and God seems to give lots of favor. This may be compared to the joy that the Israelites had in leaving Egypt to head for the Promised Land. The Egyptians gave them all the gold and silver they asked for, they had been spared the judgments that came on those Egyptians such as the death of the firstborn, and they were finally free from their slavery! Hallelujah!

Yet experience and the Scriptures teach us that after this short period of joy and blessing we will eventually enter a dry wilderness. This is not to say that we will be dry spiritually. It is God’s will for us to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit from day one (Ephesians 5:18), and God does not withhold the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. The Holy Spirit is the one who encourages us in good times as well as tough times. We need Him. Yet it is possible even to be full of the Holy Spirit, and go through a wilderness experience in which there is almost nothing in your circumstances to encourage you. You may be just surviving from day to day financially or materially. You may be waiting for your healing to manifest. It is all totally unpleasant for your flesh. Instead of prosperity there will be trials and pressure. Your peace will be assaulted by all kinds of negative emotions and thoughts, which you will need to resist. It’s a test, but God has promised that you will never be tempted beyond your ability to endure, with with each temptation He will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

During the wilderness experience of the Israelites, there were periods where they got hungry, other times when they got thirsty. At times like this, instead of remembering God’s great and mighty works from the past, and trusting Him, the Israelites frequently complained against Moses and against God. At times they spoke of going back to Egypt. They remembered the food they enjoyed there, and seemed to have forgotten what it was like to be slaves under cruel taskmasters. They just wanted to go back to Egypt. Egypt in the Bible is a type or symbol of Satan’s world system. Their attitude mirrors the attitude of those Christians who, after a difficult season in the wilderness, despise God and his promises and want to return to the world and its pleasures.

During your wilderness experience, the familiar comforts of the world will not be there for you. You have to learn to depend on God for all you need materially, emotionally, physically as well as spiritually. The temptation will be to backslide in your heart and return to find your life in the world system, thereby rejecting Christ. Many do this in their hearts well before they forsake church fellowship and get involved again in open, wilful sin. God warns us against having an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. If indeed we do believe God, we know He will come through for us if we keep thanking Him. We trust that the wilderness time is only temporary, however tough it may seem.

Our Lord Jesus Christ also went through a wilderness experience, and He showed us how to pass through it successfully. After his baptism, and His anointing with the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures say He was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry” (Luke 4:1,2). There was nothing in that wilderness naturally speaking to comfort the Lord. Jesus Himself had to pass through the wilderness experience before He could be used by God to bring salvation, healing and deliverance to anyone. In verse 14, just after this time in the wilderness, it says, “Jesus returned in the power of the Holy Spirit to Galilee.” Jesus is our model in these things. If we want the power of the Holy Spirit, not just the fullness, we have to pass the tests in the wilderness. Jesus did it by speaking the Word of God and ignoring the cravings of his body for food for a period of time. The same methods will work for any one of us. Christ now lives in us to make this approach a possibility for us. The Lord is the strength of our life! (Isaiah 12:2; Psalm 27:1)

Anyone who has gotten anywhere in God has gone through at least one wilderness experience. The Israelites leaving Egypt were no exception. It is normal to go through more than one such experience in your life. Wildernesses can be seasons aside with God to learn from God where there is no option to be very productive outwardly. There is almost always a period of waiting between the time you receive a promise of God in your heart, and the time of its fulfillment. Do not be surprised when this happens! There are many examples in the Bible to show us that this is the way God deals with His people. So take heart – if this is happening to you right now, it shows you are on track with God. He hasn’t given up on you. He is forming you to be the kind of person who can overcome giants through faith in God, and enjoy blessings far greater than you could otherwise ever know in the world. But before you get there, you will be tested, often severely. See each trial as an opportunity to be promoted to better things in God. Its more painful to fail God’s tests than it is to pass them. If you fail, He will lovingly bring you round again to face exactly the same test again and again until you learn to pass.

The length of time of a wilderness experience can vary from 40 days to 40 years. I believe our responses to God’s dealings will determine how quickly we get out of the wilderness phase of our lives and into the “abundant fruitfulness” phase. The Israelites could have been out of the wilderness in 2 years if they had believed God’s promises to them at the time the spies returned from Kadesh Barnea.

God will not forsake his principles in this matter for anybody. He does not play favorites, but rather, treats us according to what is in our hearts. The tests and trials are not necessary for God to know what is in our hearts, but rather for US to know. If there are problems in our attitudes, they will come out when we are squeezed or under pressure. If you want to find out what a container of toothpaste is full of, squeeze it and you will find out. When God squeezes us and puts us under pressure, we find out whether our hearts are full of faith or whether some negative attitude is lurking there.

This is why we would do well to really guard our hearts. What we allow and what we plant in our hearts determines to a large extent what God will arrange for us to deal with in life. This is an important fact from the Scripture in Proverbs quoted below.

Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Those who meditate on the Word are preparing themselves for God’s blessings. Those who tolerate sin are preparing themselves for painful dealings and possible disaster. Everything will go through God’s fire, but the results of the fire depend on the type of heart we have.

When you think about it, God owes us nothing. If we have anything good, we should give thanks to God. Even if all our bodily desires are not satisfied, we should thank God for what we have. The goal of life is not to pander to bodily desires. The goal of life is to be like God, like Jesus, and do things that please Him out of love because He first loved us. God talks about us being predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. Many years I decided to accept this plan rather than continually fighting it. The world needs more people like Jesus. It certainly does not need more people full of selfish ambition as I was before I turned to the Lord.

So make it your aim to please the Lord, even when you are sorely tempted to grumble and complain about things, and God will see your faith and patience and move you onto better things. The wilderness is only meant to be for a season, to make you a better perosn. But if you do grumble and complain, be prepared to take another lap around Mount Sinai. Be prepared to spend years in the wilderness. Its sad, but there are so many Christians who never come into a mature attitude of faith, trust and thanksgiving so that God can manifest in their lives so many of the outstanding promises found in His Word for those who believe.

One of the first things God did with the Israelites after their baptism in the Red Sea and the cloud (which symbolise baptism in water and the Holy Spirit), was to teach them the law and have a tabernacle set up for divine worship. If you don’t learn to thank, praise, worship and honor God in the wilderness, God knows you are not ready for prosperity, abundance and blessing. Its easy to think when life and business are going well that it was your own cleverness that brought you into these blessings, and become proud and arrogant, forgetting the Lord. But it wasn’t your cleverness or hard work ultimately that gave you good things – it was the Lord. He is the one who gives people power to get wealth. He gave us our brains, our bodies, our capacities. Who are we to boast as if we made ourselves, or gave ourselves the good things we have? There are people who have plenty of natural abilities but still don’t enjoy success. We should learn right attitudes so that God will be pleased to lift us up and empower us at the right time (when we can be trusted).

It only took one or two generations for the children of Israel to become unfaithful to God after they had entered the Promised Land. This is why every bit of training and formation we go through in the wilderness is more precious than gold. In our case, it is preparing us for eternal positions and blessings which we can hardly conceive of now. So the encouragement is “Don’t lose heart”. “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).

Its a law of life that anything worthwhile requires some patience and endurance.

Complaining in the Wilderness

Another thing the Israelites kept saying which angered God was, “Did God bring us out here into the wilderness to kill us?” In one sense God did want to kill them – he wanted to kill their old identity as slaves in Egypt. It was easier for God to get the people out of Egypt than it was for Him to get ‘Egypt’ out of the people. During the whole time there were undercurrents of unfaithfulness against God. The Scripture even says in Acts 7 that the Israelites had idol gods with them during their wilderness time. God wanted to purify their hearts, so He could be their God and they His people. But the people constantly suggested that God’s intentions towards them were basically evil, and that he brought them out into the wilderness to kill them.

They said this so often that in the end, after repeatedly testing the Lord and doubting His Word, God decreed that they WOULD die in the wilderness. Only their children who were under 20 at the time would make it into the Promised Land. The exceptions to this were Joshua and Caleb, who had a different attitude, and believed God. The whole company of Israel could have entered the Promised Land 2 years after leaving Egypt, or maybe sooner, had they believed God’s promise and not the evil report of the 10 spies who did not believe that God would give them victory against the giants in the land.

People often get what they say (Proverbs 6:2; Mark 11:23). If you confess that God wants to curse you, you will be cursed. If despite your trying circumstances, you continue to believe and confess the promises of the Word of God for your life you are sowing seeds for a great harvest of blessing. If you believe in God’s faithfulness and mercy, and desire to please Him, you WILL come into better things. There are so many examples in the Old Testament which illustrate this principle. Consider Abraham, who had to wait many years for the son of promise. God tested Abraham’s faith and obedience to the hilt, but Abraham came through, and the result was he founded a dynasty of faith. Through Abraham all the nations of the earth have now been blessed. In the same way, your own faith is a foundation upon which many blessings will flow to others. God is testing that foundation. Real faith will pass the test.

Our complaining is particularly obnoxious to God. When we complain we are saying that God is not doing us right, that God is not fair, or just. Complaining against God or God’s appointed leadership will bring judgment, not blessing. It is in our fallen nature to want to be greater than we are, or to arrive at our destination before we are ready but we must trust the Lord to put us in our right place at the right time.

Consider the words coming out of your mouth. Though you may praise the Lord during a worship service, following the words projected on the screen of your church building, are your words in everyday life reflecting an attitude of thanksgiving, trust and appreciation towards God? If not, there is something of impatience and unbelief still lurking in you, and God will be faithful to deal with it.

How To Get Out of the Wilderness Quicker

I believe that faith and patience will get us out of the wilderness as quickly as possible. Its better to endure pain if necessary now than to go on suffering frustration for a lifetime until you learn the lesson and pass the test that God is putting before you now. At the same time, learn the power of speaking out God’s Word. God’s Words formed the Universe. When you speak God’s Word out in the name of Jesus, you are releasing great spiritual power. Stick by your guns and the devil will be forced to flee. You will have a strong foundation in your life for future blessings. Your faith will grow, and it will stand the tests. Every revelation in the Word of God has value and potential to enhance your success. Give God the maximum opportunity to reap a huge return on His investment in you, and you too will be delighted with the results. God made us to worship Him. Your wilderness period is an opportunity to get to know God intimately, and experience his works in your life and your heart. Don’t waste these opportunities. When you get out of the wilderness you may be busier fighting giants than you want to be. You will appreciate the times you had getting to know God. And you will have a foundation of discipline and training so you won’t run into apostacy after idols as soon as God starts pouring out material blessing upon you. Rather you will seek to use those resources for God’s great end time harvest of souls which is being gathered in these last days. In that way, your life will have great eternal impact and you will shine like the stars in heaven for all eternity (Daniel 12:3). So don’t give up in the midst of trials. It is necessary that you pass through seasons of trials, but God is there for you to strengthen you and hold you up.

May God richly bless you.

Michael Fackerell

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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  1. Hi, thank u so much for this, it discribes exactly wat is the wilderness, but im passing thru my second wilderness, actuly i duno if it is the second or that I didnt get out of the first one!!
    am so confused!! i realy dunno what god wants me to learn….im not getting it!! i know his gna teach me smthin and am trying my best to praay and worship even when i dont feel him in ANYWAY! and that my life isnt as perfect as it could be !! bt am still holding on !! and i realy donno what to do!! its jst geting harder! and i dunno what god wants to teach me or if i still ddnt learn from the last time! :S

    • Please don’t feel alone my brother! Or is it sister? Anyway, I feel as if I have been through this wilderness experience for the last few years, and I believe I just may be coming out now. (Possibly! I won’t speak too soon,)

      I wish there was a convenient formula for helping others get out..but it seems when we try to find formulas for ANYTHING in the Christian walk, whether it be prayer, or how to prosper,or, well, just ANYTHING, we become self defeated in that quest to formulize anything.

      My experience, and maybe this is wisdom from the Lord, is that God despises and or does not allow formulas! That may be the most profound thing I have said in a long time, and it just now came to me as I was typing. It seems the Spirit is averse to formulas.

      All I can say, if there IS any such thing as a “formula” to get out of the wilderness, it’s surely to seek God passionately and fervently with all your heart every single day, day and night, 24/7,rain and shine,snow and rain, (Shall we dub this “postman faith”?) dedicate your life to Him 200%, and pray like the dickens with every breath in your body for as many weeks, months, or years as it takes. It takes a BULLDOG tenacity, that’s for sure. DEFINITELY not for the faint of heart!

      On the other hand, the Bible ASSURES us that if we have this kind of never say die faith, God is pleased! For “Without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God” “He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that DILIGENTLY seek Him.

      Oh, ouch! That nasty word “diligence” That translates to another dirty word: W….O…..R….K!!

      • jesseedavis says:

        Watch your mouth Doug!! Or I’ll wash it out with chocolate syrup!!!

        The wilderness is a horrible place, but honestly it has brought the best out of those that are in there. My church secretary has got a mess to get out of, she is deep in the wilderness reliving her childhood and all the mistakes of her life. A friend of mine is also in the wilderness and the scary thing is that he is a new believer. He came out of all sorts of gang and bar scenes from NY somewhere. Anyways, the wilderness experience that we all go through is for us to drop off the different things poisoning us.

        but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
        Matthew 10:22

        Do not be one of those Israelites that held on to things so much that they never got out and died there. Rest assured they never made it to the promised land.

        • My dearest Jesse,just tell your church secretary and your friend too that the best of psalms were not written in the palace,but in the wilderness,that is what the bible does not tell us,but it tells us that David is the greatest king that ever lived.Doesnt that give those in the wilderness a reason to break forth in to singing praises and worship?

        • jesse,

          You have me totally baffled. I’m not sure what I said that would imply that the wilderness is anything BUT a horrible place! In fact, I said I’ve been through it and may be coming out. I need clarification on your post, please. Thanks! Doug

          • jesseedavis says:

            I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have wrote that. Lol, it is a family joke, we have our words that we joke about not saying or else and work is one of them. It just went with the way you said it so I put it out there. Sorry again.

          • OH! That explains my confusion! It was the “W” word!

            Things were a bit nebulous till you explained it. I just didn’t have a clue which part of my long post you were zeroing in on. Now I’m clear!

            Believe me, I don’t like that word either! Even though I have to do it everyday, I have the same ergasiophobia as any one else!

            (Just kidding. Not really. But if I had my way, I would work on things that I enjoy doing rather than the things necessary to survive.) If I could make a living from my new found photo restoration endeavors, as I posted about recently, I think I would be a very happy man. It’s been said that if your work is play, you stand a very high chance of success.

            For some people..most in fact, work is drudgery. But a handful have been blessed to be able to do for a living what they love. There work is indeed play.

          • jesseedavis says:

            Yes, I think that is one thing that we all are unanimous NOT to go to the Bible about. That “w” word. Although, it does give us an example to follow and also different commandments and passages revealing the attitude, but just forget I said anything about that, just kidding.

            Honestly, I really want work right now. Something I can do for the Lord, preferably with a steady salary.

  2. God always look after us. Just believe in Him, let Him carry all your burdens and the load becomes lighter.

  3. I myself discourage people who prays or commands angels to do something. We are to pray to God and tell him what we need and how we feel. Holy Spirit is our helper and counselor. God knows when to dispatch angels to do a given task. Yesu they are ministering spirits, but we have no right to pray to them nor command them.

    May God bless and teach us

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________
    Tit 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live sober

  4. Daniel01234 says:

    im going through a wilderness season right now. it hurts a lot. God is so faithful through out it all. i prayed for understanding and i got a prophetic word from someone at church. i prayed for an angel to encourage me and sure enough i had a visitation.. but through all those prayers it still hurts. it just shows how in this season we need to put our FAITH into true action.. faih is what is unseen not what is seen. im still waiting to be out of this wilderness season.. but in all of it thanks that LORD and praise him you will be comforted. Put all of your burdens before the Lord and he will answer. He is faithful he is strong when you are weak. i have been expereinceing this myself. this article has been a really true full explanation and i thank you so much

    • Instead of praying for an angel visitition, if you could have faith in God and ask Him to fill you with Holy Spirit and give peace to your heart and joy to your soul, hopefully it could be much better. Why would you pray for an Angel to visit you? Don’t you have faith in God and Holy Spirit that they can comfort you. It is God’s work to assign Holy angels for you and you don’t need to worry about them. God knows how to encourage and protect you. Have faith in the goodness of God.

  5. What a timely post for me. Thank you.

  6. TREASIE says:

    Thank you so much on understanding the Wilderness, your understanding of the wilderness make me realize that you are speaking from experience and great faith. Be bless…

  7. I’m right now going thro’ the wilderness exp, the Lord is giving me manna for eachday. today is my 20th day in my house n the Lord had commanded me not to step out of my frontdoor. after a very risky assignment which I finished he is leading me in the wilderness. with 2 kids 3n5 with my husbands impatience n my friends discouragements I feel it hard except that he is leading me n the thought I’m right now where I’m in the centre of god’s will is what keeps going. thank u for explaining clearly what it is like.
    thank u

  8. Don’t grab the steering wheel when God is driving!

    It is the Lord’s job to lead us out of the wilderness; it is not for us to find a way. In my wilderness (after going around the same mountain many, many times)I learned to know His voice, which led me into the land of the Giants i.e. the fire, the last battle before I entered my Promised Land.

    Blessings,
    George

  9. J Darby says:

    Wow!!! This really describes my life’s experience right now. Thanks a million for clearly spelling out exactly what the wilderness means. This is really helpful and encouraging!! 🙂

  10. Trisha S says:

    thanks man. thanks a bunch. for real.

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