We moved into a ten-story section 8 housing complex in downtown Fort Worth in the torrid heat. It felt like a wilderness. I was three months pregnant with our third child and juggled our two boys (then ages three and six)—who literally bounced off the enclosed walls of our 7 x 9 living room.
My husband served on pastoral staff at a church near by for a one-year residency—while I swung in limbo with an unexpected pregnancy and unsure future beyond the next year.
Tears washed my linens as I persevered in financial and relational poverty. I clung to Scripture tight-fisted, but sometimes even God’s word felt like sand through my fingers.
Podcast Episode: When Your Life Feels Like a Spiritual Wilderness
Sometimes We Dwell in the Wilderness
Following Jesus sometimes leads us in places of wrestling and aching. And it seems Satan is right there to tempt and twist us into despair—or rebellion.
Jesus faced Satan’s temptations in his own wilderness season.
We read about it in Luke 4:1-13 (NIV).
4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
What stirred in your soul as you read these verses?
Think about this for a moment.
Re-read the first verse.
Pay attention to what is says about the Spirit.
Luke 4:1 “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. . . “
The Spirit Led Jesus Into the Wilderness
The Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.
Sometimes we only see God’s leading and power in the outcome of victory over whatever we face—a financial set-back, a health crisis, a relational problem.
But sometimes we are led into the wilderness for our own spiritual strength-training.
Trials come—and we wrestle. We punch back. We hold tight. And then we pick up the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10–21) to stand firm. Trials remind us of our need for God and prepare our hearts to depend on His leading beyond the wilderness.
The Purpose of the Wilderness
The Spirit had purpose for Jesus in the wilderness—to prepare him to start his public ministry, which would advance the Kingdom against the forces of wickedness. Jesus used Scripture as his defensive weapon against the manipulations of his enemy (and Satan twisted Scripture for his own advantage).
So, we can trust that Scripture—wisely handled—is also our offensive weapon to withstand Satan’s temptations.
Wilderness Seasons Will Happen
We will have wilderness seasons, where Satan’s temptations and lies seem more tangible than bread. But we can be sure that the Spirit is with us—as He was with Jesus. And the truths of God’s Word will sustain us, as they sustained our Lord.
As the Apostle Paul encourages us in 1 Corinthians 10:13:
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
Reflect on This:
What is luring you away from full devotion to God?
We all have trappings that Satan lures us with.
What hinders you from full obedience to God’s Word?
Think about that for a moment.
Jesus Begins His In-the-flesh Ministry
Jesus started his in-the-flesh ministry (what is called “incarnational ministry”) that we read about in the rest of chapter 4. His hometown rejected him and He began to go throughout the region, casting out demonic spirits and healing many people.
Satan thought he had the upper hand on God’s Son—but by overcoming Satan through holding onto the truth of Scripture in the wilderness, Jesus destroyed the work of sin and Satan’s dominion in the lives of others as he preached the Kingdom of God and healed physical ailments.
The Kingdom of God is come.
Where do you long to see Jesus’ power come to bring wholeness or healing?
Pray about that for a moment.