“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
Some believers describe difficult times in their lives as “wilderness seasons.” During these times they say they experience loneliness, spiritual dryness, a lack of hearing from God, a lack of spiritual power, and a lack of faith. These times may also include giving into temptation.
No one has ever had a wilderness experience like Jesus had in the desert. It lasted forty days. Instead of defeating him, Jesus defeated three temptations of the devil. During this time, he was not spiritually dry. He heard from God and did not experience a lack of faith.
Why? Because He was sustained by His Father. He was nourished by the Father’s Words. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:10.) Jesus also declared in John 8:29, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father Has not left me alone.” He knew God was with Him, and He drew upon His strength.
Jesus did not give in to the temptations of the devil. He defeated them because He had been with the Father. His wilderness season was proof of the power of a sinless life over the hunger of the flesh and the temptations of the enemy.
When we study Jesus during this time, we can see His choice to draw upon God's strength. He did not lack sustenance, and we do not have to lack it. We, too, can live by every Word God speaks. We, too, can choose to only believe God’s Words. We can choose to believe God's truth—that He remains with us, empowering us through the hard times.
When we talk about our hard times as “wilderness seasons” instead of times we live by the Word and times of God sustaining us, we fall into the trap of our emotions. We use our wilderness experience as a time to encourage our feelings instead of drawing upon the Lord. We cannot expect life to be easy. Paul said that the way we enter the Kingdom is through much tribulation (Acts 14:22). The writer of Hebrews said that we inherit the promises of God by faith and patience (Hebrews 6:12).
We live in a fallen world. The opportunities to give up are always with us. If we want to call something a wilderness season, then we should be honest and recognize that what we receive from it is of our own making. We may not have chosen the circumstance but our response is definitely our own. Jesus never looked at his time of temptations by the devil to be his wilderness season. He saw his opportunity to draw upon the Father.
We should be rooted and grounded in Jesus. We should be growing stronger in the good and bad times of life. There should always be fruit in our lives. The tests of living in this world are never going away. What you experience is not a wilderness season. It is just life.
Keep seeking God. Keep getting wisdom and knowledge. Learn to lean on God’s revelation of truth, not your own understanding. God is always with us, and His Word is always alive. We should always learn and be “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6)
Never believe God has put you in a wilderness season, and that you are on your own. That kind of wrong thinking can take you in the wrong direction. God never leaves you or forsakes you. Stir up your faith and trust in Him. Believe He is in you—sustaining and empowering you through whatever season you are in.