Grace In The Wilderness

“At the same time,” says the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.” 2Thus says the LORD: “The people who survived the sword Found grace in the wilderness—Israel, when I went to give him rest”.
— Jeremiah 31:1-3 NKJV

The wilderness is not a pleasant place to be in. It’s a wasteland of desolate, barren, and rough terrain that is uninhabitable; a place that will sorely test one’s endurance and survival skills. But the wilderness also is a place that allows people to go through a time of introspection and to evaluate their lives before the Father. This is the place where people come to deep self-awareness of how desperately they need the Father. To find grace in the wilderness is to find the Father. To find grace is to find His favor. When we have His favor, there is no desolate place, no barren or rough terrain, that can prevent the Father from pouring out His goodness upon His children. However, it takes a wilderness experience to reveal and enhance to us our capacity to love Him regardless of circumstance, trial, affliction, or suffering.

As the children of Israel departed Egypt, they could have passed through neighboring nations, which would have accelerated their journey to the promise land, but the best way forward was to go through the wilderness. Many scholars believe that the straight journey could have taken as little as 11 days, but in their case it took 40 years. As we read the story about their journey, we learn that an entire generation succumbed to death over this period due to murmuring and complaining. Their hearts became hardened and they lacked perspective about the Father. At no time throughout their journey was the Father’s favor not with them. In the wilderness they witnessed some of the most extraordinary miracles. The Father’s glory was with them; He was present among them. Their daily provisions were taken care of, from food to clothing and even sandals. If they were assessed based on health and wellness, they would have looked far better than people who lived in cities. They had found grace in the wilderness.

The wilderness was a place to prepare them for the promise land. It was here where the ways of the world would be worked out of them and where they would learn to hear and follow the Father’s voice. The same is true for us today even though we have advanced so much since then. When we feel like we are going through the wilderness, we have to realize that the Father has made us complete in Him. Since He knows the end from the beginning, He knows our potential and our capacity to express Him. As we go through the wilderness, everything within us is tested. We can quickly resort to murmuring and complaining to the point of giving up. The longer we stay in the wilderness the easier it becomes to feel as though the Father doesn’t really care about us. To escape this uninhabitable environment as quickly as possible might seem like the right answer to us because we like shortcuts. But the Father is patient, and it’s in the wilderness where He works out of us all the things that inhibit us and stifle our growth in Him. Yes, this process hurts; often, it is quite painful! However, the quicker we submit to Him, the better our journey becomes.

His grace is His favor. It gives us the ability to go through the most adverse conditions imaginable and yet succeed. His grace carries within itself the power to remind us that we are His children and that we never walk this journey alone; the Father is with us all the way. He will never leave us or forsake us. There is no weapon that can harm those whom He loves dearly and who love Him. Becoming fixated and fearful regarding our needs, such as security, provisions, riches, etc., diminishes our understanding that we are the King’s children. We are royalty whom He has filled with abundance; we lack nothing. Christ’s resting place has never been a physical building, but a people. He has never needed a palace to be King, but a people. When we understand that He is in us and that we are in Him, there is no wilderness, mountain, or place, habitable or uninhabitable, where we cannot journey through and be conquerors. His grace gives us the strength, endurance, and peace to go through anything…and we remain satisfied.