Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.
Deuteronomy 8:2-5 (NIV)
God allowed the people of Israel to wander in the wilderness for forty years. He wasn’t being vindictice, he was actually testing them to discover what was in their hearts.
Reading the accounts in Exodus and Dueteronomy it is very clear that the Israelites went through many cycles where they complained against God and God provided for their needs (bread, water and meat). Each time God provided for their needs it looked like they had learned the lesson, but later they would forget what God had done and return to their complaining.
Many Christians talk about going through a ‘wilderness experience’. This is often when they feel that God is far away and they feel they are struggling on their own.
Consider this – what if the wilderness experience is one of testing rather than isolation? What if God allows you to feel isolated and alone, to bring to the surface what is in your heart? Knowing that you are actually being tested should change your perspective from ‘I’ and ‘me’, to one that is focused on ‘what is God wanting to see in my heart that can only be brought to the surface by going through this experience?’
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