When you see the word miracles paired with wilderness, you might think, Are you kidding? We all love the word miracle, but wilderness— not so much! We’ve all experienced difficult seasons at one time or another and have hoped for that instantaneous miracle to appear.
Over and over you can hear the cry of our hearts through the psalmist, King David, as he says:
“How long, O Lord?” “When will you answer my cry?” “Why must I wait so long for your promise to be fulfilled?”
We can all identify with those words, for we’ve all had unresolved issues surface in our journey with Christ. So in spite of what others may tell you, the Christian journey is not a life of endless bliss, with a perfect marriage, perfect relationships, and a perfect financial portfolio. Perfection can only be found in Christ, for the world we live in is a fallen world. And even though life is sweet for the lovers of God, we all still face times of unexpected trials, unpredicted difficulties, and seemingly unsolvable problems. In a word, this is the wilderness.
Every child of God will have a wilderness experience, but not everyone has to have a wilderness wandering. The “wilderness” is something every true Christ follower must pass through. The good news is you will make it through to the other side. However, let me tell you what many will not. You won’t escape going through a wilderness or two on your way to paradise. The wilderness—everybody’s got one.
There are at least ten named wildernesses in the Bible. Even Jesus entered a wilderness season immediately after His baptism. He was tested with many ordeals. And the pathway to glory will invariably lead us through the wilderness. Between every promise and the Promised Land of fulfillment will be a wilderness. But the great promise of grace is always with us, for the Lord will never lead us into a path that He has not already ventured. He was victorious in His wilderness test, because He placed His hope in God alone and trusted in the living Word of God to sustain Him. There’s a children’s song that my wife and I once taught our kids to sing as they were growing up. The lyrics are simple but the lesson they teach us is not.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, All I have to do is follow. My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, All I have to do is follow. Strength for today is mine all the way, And all that I need for tomorrow. My Lord knows the way through, All I have to do is follow. Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus. Anywhere, everywhere, I will follow him. Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus Anywhere He leads me, I will follow Him.
When you have no place to turn, and you feel like your progress is slow and your spiritual growth seems even slower, remember the words to that children’s song,“My Lord Knows the Way.” One step at a time and one day at a time, we move through our lives on this planet. Unexpected twists and turns come, but so does the glorious revelation that Jesus has gone before us through the darkest times of our lives and promises to take us through them to the other side, where all is glory and peace.
God’s loving and watchful care over our lives is eternal. He has invested sacred blood and the life of His Son for us. He will never disappoint those who trust in Him. His ways are good and perfect. All I have to do is follow Him.
You can truly find comfort and strength in whatever situation you face today. God has not forgotten you and He is more than faithful to all who call upon Him. The words Paul gives to the Corinthians, God gives to us today as living truth. Never forget how much He loves you and will see you to the other side of every “wilderness” in your life.
“All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ. If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience. Now our hope for you is unshakable, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings you will also share in God’s comforting strength.
—2 Corinthians 1:3–7 The Passion Translation
“KILL BRIAN!” It was our very first visit to the jungle as we were preparing to move in among the Kuna people as tribal missionaries. The hour-and-a-half flight took us into some of the deepest parts of the Darien Gap, a dense tropical rainforest that covers large portions of Panama and Colombia. We were finally moving to the village after years of prayer and preparation. Our hearts were pounding as we stepped down out of the Cessna 185 “bush plane.” We were now in our new home, the Paya-Kuna tribal village of Pucuro!
Would the people welcome us? Would they be friendly to our family? Would their hearts be open to our message of new life in Jesus Christ? The first words we heard from the Kuna people were not what we expected.
“Kill Brian! Kill Brian!”
First it started with one man, then an entire crowd gathered at the jungle airstrip. They were shouting something strange: “Kill Brian! Kill Brian!” My first thought was, That’s a weird welcome. I hope it’s not too late to get back into the airplane!
As they saw the look of fear on our faces, they began to laugh! Just then, one of the men in the village quickly stepped forward and said to me in Spanish, “We’re calling you ‘uncle.’”
That was my first language lesson that day. I learned that the words Kill Brian meant Uncle Brian in the Kuna language! They were celebrating our arrival with cries of “Uncle Brian! Uncle Brian is here!” And so our adventure began. What would these days hold for us and our three small children as we would live in this forgotten jungle village? What challenges were waiting for us, and what dangers would lurk in the days to come? It was like a scene from Survivor!
Our life in the jungle was filled with many self-emptying opportunities to surrender our lives of convenience. Everything was out of our comfort zone: the heat, the language, the food, the outhouse—everything! We lived as the people lived, ate what they ate, and lived among them. Our wilderness exposed our weaknesses. It always does; that’s the nature of every wilderness experience.
Consider this: as a servant of Christ, you will one day enter a season of helplessness where you no longer call the shots and know what to do. It will seem as if you don’t have what it takes to survive—finding yourself in a place and a season where only Christ will be your strength.
The One whose name is Living Water is within you. This wonderful Jesus brings you a life-giving stream, fulfilling every need no matter how difficult the many surprises of life can be. He is within you as a well of water “springing up into everlasting life!” (John 4:14). This “springing well” begins to flow inside until praise rises up out of you again. Before you know it, the springs are watering everything around you—and every dry place within you. You will see things differently, you will feel differently about the people around you, and you will see things you didn’t even notice before. When Jesus shows up in the wilderness, it disappears. It becomes a garden.
“The Lord will always show you where to go and what to do, filling you with refreshment when you are dry and in a difficult place. He will continually restore strength to you. You will flourish like a well-watered garden, And be like an ever-flowing, trustworthy spring of blessing.”
—Isaiah 58:11 The Passion Translation
We learn in our difficult season that even though we may be in a wilderness, our hearts don’t have to be a barren wasteland. Our wilderness starts growing flowers when Jesus flows from within us. His presence satisfies the deep thirst that dries up the soul and places us in a weary land or a weary season. Whoever heard of roses blooming in a desert?
“Even the desert will bloom like a rose. Every dry and barren place will blossom abundantly, singing joyously of the new day!” —Isaiah 35:1–2 The Passion Translation
Your wilderness (your life with its surprises and setbacks) will blossom with a rose, and that rose is Christ! Jesus, the Rose, will be found in your desert days, bringing a new fragrance and a new song. What you thought was an impossible climate for overcoming will become the canvas for a rose.
Miracles are waiting to be found in your wilderness. Even in a wilderness, God can work in power. He doesn’t need perfection to pull off a miracle. He’s done it before with nothing but chaos all around. It was called creation! There is no shortage of power with God. He can make lame ones leap and broken ones sing. Just watch what the God of Love will do in your life! Great things are ahead for you!
Interested in reading more about God’s plan and miracles for your life? Check out our new book, Miracles in The Wilderness