That Dry Place Called “Wilderness”

It was her habit. When she wanted to hear God’s voice, she would slip out of the living room while her siblings were watching TV. She would walk around and around the pool, trying to pray and trying to listen.

She knew her relationship with God needed to grow constantly, but in the past few days, it had felt dry and lifeless.

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“Blessed be Your name, when I’m found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness.” – Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman

 

For the sake of this blog post, “the wilderness” refers times in life when you recognize, like Ellie, that you need God, but He feels distant. Maybe this is new to you; you’re trying to go to Him for the first time in your life. Or maybe you’ve gone to Him many times before, and you’re wondering why this time feels so different.

Let’s look at three things to remember about these times:

#1. The wilderness is not inherently bad

I organize my blog posts into categories, three of which are ‘the good’, ‘the bad’ and ‘the ugly’. I’ve included this post in ‘the bad’, simply because times of spiritual dryness in our lives feel uncomfortable. By default, we seem to immediately associate them with negative and ‘bad’.

That said, the Bible teaches that trials/sufferings produce in us perseverance, character and hope:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

Romans 5:3-4

I believe that the wilderness seasons are a sort of trial. Whether they are good or not depends on how we deal with them. Do we quickly give up and find something better t do? Or do we push harder and harder to seek God, even when we don’t feel the warm fuzzies of His presence?

#2. The wilderness highlights our need for God

We don’t like the dry and barren of the wilderness. We like to feel fresh and well-nourished. If this is your first time seeking God, please know that you will find that nourishment in Him. But for those of us who have known Him personally for some time already, perhaps we take His nourishment for granted. I think of how I am so quick to forget that clean water is a gift that not everyone has.

This is my own reasoning. Please test whether or not it is biblical, but maybe part of the reason believers have wilderness experiences is so that we may be reminded of the nourishment that God has given us in Jesus.

#3. We can’t manifest a revival in our hearts

In the wilderness, it’s important to keep pushing to spend time in with God, whether by reading His Word or talking with Him in prayer. But please be mindful that we cannot bring about a revival in our own hearts. We cannot make ourselves feel rejuvenated or take ourselves out of that desert place. We do need to continue to seek God, but we must always remember that it is only He who can work in our hearts and lives to transform them.

If you’re coming to God for the first time, what Jesus says here is relevant to you:

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them,and I will raise them up at the last day.

-John 6:44

If you’re already a child of God, then this is what you can hold onto in wilderness times:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

-Philippians 1:6

Remember, the wilderness is a season like others, and it will pass.

Now that the ball is rolling, let’s keeping it going

  • What do you do when you want to hear from God?
  • What are some ways that you can prepare yourself for times in the future when you go through the wilderness?
  • Are there things lessons you can learn from the wilderness that you can’t get when you in that “sweet spot” with God?
  • Would you add a #4 to my list of things to remember about wilderness seasons?

Resources for deeper digging

Psst! For more on:

  • People who loved God a lot and who had wilderness experiences: Psalm 42 and Psalm 63 were written by two people during wilderness seasons
  • God causing springs to flow in the wilderness: this post is honest and tells of great hope.

 

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4 thoughts on “That Dry Place Called “Wilderness”

  1. I think the dry times helps our faith grow. I had a friend once ask me, just after he lost his job, “What does God want from me?” The simple answer is our praise. We can learn to praise God in the good times, the bad and the ugly. When we do this God gets all the glory and we grow.

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  2. Here in Québec, we have winter. Apples don’t grow in winter but it is a good time for pruning. But the suckers out and you will have more fruits when the time comes.
    Same for the Maple tree. No Maple syrup without winter freesing. And you have nothing to do except clean your materialto prepare for the season.

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