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Trusting God in the Wilderness
Have you ever been on a journey to the promised land? Think about what it’s like. God spoke something to you, told you to go, and you stepped out in faith, trusting Him to get you there. What did you think would happen next?
I’ve been on a journey to the promised land. God spoke to our family a couple of years ago to move to a new state we had never lived in before and that we would start a small homestead farm. When we stepped out in faith, we expected to step right into buying the land and learning all things farming and getting our hands dirty.
We expected it to be easy.
But that’s not what happened. In fact, we live in an apartment right now, and it feels like all we have done since we got here is fight the “enemies” in the land. The only dirt we see is the mud on my kids’ boots after we go play outside. That’s not what we expected, and in my prayer time, I told God that this is not what it was supposed to be like.
God reminded me of what happened after the Israelites left Egypt to go to their promised land.
He reminded me of the wilderness. He reminded me of the space in between. The space where you need to leave behind all the idols, all the issues, and even the mindsets that keep you from stepping into the promised land itself.
No one tells you about the wilderness when you are on the way to the promised land, but let me tell you, it’s there. I can’t think of a single person in the Bible who did something great for the Kingdom of God who didn’t experience their own version of the wilderness.
Jesus went to the wilderness for 40 days. David fought his enemies for 14 years before stepping in as king. And, of course, because of the unbelief of the Israelites, Joshua didn’t see the promised land for 40 years.
You see, it’s in the wilderness your character is refined. It’s in the wilderness that you learn that God is your provider. It’s in the wilderness you get to see God perform miraculous things. The wilderness is where your faith grows deeper. The wilderness is where you truly surrender it all to God. The wilderness is where you leave your old life behind.
The wilderness is necessary for growth.
Let’s revisit the story in Exodus, where the Israelites leave Egypt. You can find the full version in Exodus 5-15.
Basically, Moses and Aaron go to Pharoah to persuade him to let their people go free. Pharoah says no, so God sends seven plagues. After each one, Pharoah’s heart is hardened more and more. Boy, was he stubborn. Finally, the worst one happens. The firstborn male in every house dies unless they have the blood of a lamb over their entry. Side note, this is why the Jewish people celebrate Passover because God passed over them.
How heartbreaking. Pharaoh relents and tells them to all leave. Moses rallies everyone, and they head out. Sometime after they leave, Pharaoh has a change of heart. He sends soldiers to go after the Israelites to bring them back to Egypt. By this time, the people have backed up again the sea without a boat. On the other side are their enemies. What is God going to do?
I don’t think any of the people expected God to part the sea so they could walk on dry land. I don’t think any of them knew just how powerful their God was until that moment. Remember, they’ve been slaves for generations. I imagine being in shock and awe.
But that’s who God is. He loves His people. And that’s the God I still serve today.
After that, they get out into the desert. God provides for their every need every step of the way. He gives them manna to eat each morning. They don’t need to worry about food, because God provides it daily. They don’t need to store it up, because there is always enough for each day.
There is so much to unpack there, but like the Israelites, the wilderness has really tested my faith.
Do I really trust God to do it? Or, do I trust in my own strength?
Do I really believe God is going to provide us with the land to build and develop a sustainable farm? Or do I think he has brought us out into the wilderness to die?
I’ve wrestled with this time and again. My daughter broke her leg and we had no insurance. I was sick for more than two months. I haven’t been sick for more than a week in years. I left a contract only to have the new opportunity drop out from underneath me, leaving us without enough even to cover the bills on our own. Our savings is completely depleted, and all I can think is that we’ll never have enough to buy the farm.
This is the wilderness.
We live day to day, trusting God for our needs. And He provides. He provides in amazing ways that I never thought of or imagined.
There was a flood at our storage unit last fall. A fire next door triggered the sprinkler system. And our unit was affected. A handful of things that weren’t in plastic bins were ruined. Some art, my kids’ crib, and a few other furniture pieces were water damaged. And while most people would’ve been angry, we felt this heavy sense of peace. God had already brought us through so many battles, that this was a small thing.
The good news, though, was we had insurance, and the damage was covered. In this season of living day to day for our needs, God did something powerful. We were told it would take a few weeks to get the insurance check in the mail. But it took five days. The insurance check came in the day before we had some big bills to pay. Bills that we didn’t think we would be able to take care of on time. Bills that we were trusting God to cover.
That was our manna for the day. And we laughed and cried when it came in. It was also 4x more than we expected.
One time we were shopping at the grocery store and I kid you not, I had $10, and I was trying to figure out how to stretch it a week until payday. I was picking up just hotdogs, eggs, and a few other little things. A lady walked up to me and handed me $40, and told me the Lord had impressed on her heart to do it.
God provides in unexpected ways in the wilderness.
It’s hard trusting God in the wilderness. It’s hard to feel like you don’t have any control over situations.
But you see, God made a promise to us, just like He made to the Israelites. He doesn’t break His promises. But His timing isn’t like ours.
And I think that’s where the biggest challenge comes. No one knows how long the wilderness could last. Would it be 14 years like David? Would it be 40 years like the Israelites? Or would the rain start pouring 100 years after God spoke?
All I know, is God can be trusted.
God will help you drive out the giants.
God will fight some of the battles for you. The Battle of Jericho is the strangest battle ever. Let’s march around the city until it falls down. Crazy, right? Not when God says to do it. God is big enough to level the cities of your enemy. He is big enough to destroy whatever is standing between you and the promised land. All you need to do it trust Him.
5 Ways to Trust God in Every Circumstance
If you want to start trusting God in the wilderness, first surrender.
- Surrender your preconceived ideas. Surrender your frustration. Surrender your ways. Give them all to God.
- Get in the word. Read the Bible to boost your faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing from the word of God (Romans 10:17). Read the stories of how God came through for Moses, for David, for Daniel, and for the disciples.
- Write down what God promised to you. No matter what the naysayers speak, no matter what the enemy tries to put in your head, meditate on His promises.
- Actively wait. Wait on Him to fulfill the promise but do what the Bible tells us all as believers to do. Share the gospel. Make disciples. Help the poor. Pray. Worship. Serve. Wherever you are, God can use you.
- Share your testimony. The Bible says that we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). Anytime God does something miraculous, share it with someone who will rejoice with you. No matter how big or small. Use it to build your faith and the faith of others around you.
I know it’s hard. But God is faithful. God can be trusted. Even in the wilderness. Maybe the wilderness you’re in is because of something you did, and maybe it’s not something you did. Either way, God loves you, and He will get you through this season.
About Kristi Crosson:
Kristi Crosson is a writer and photographer and homeschools her three children, ages 8, 4, and 2. She is in the process of writing her first book, a personal story about God’s goodness in the midst of heartache and impossible situations.