None of us particularly enjoy ‘wilderness times’. Those times when things seem to be being taken away and stripped back, where we feel alone and forgotten, and may even doubt God’s goodness or His existence. But, the wilderness can be a positive experience for us – it all depends on how we choose to view it. The Israelites discovered that for them, the way into the Promised Land was through the wilderness. They spent forty years wandering in the desert, going in circles, but eventually (just as God said they would) they reached the Promised Land. During their wandering, God was refining them and showing them what it meant to be His people. And when we’re in the wilderness, God can refine, purify, and teach us too. In Hosea, we see God saying that He will lead Israel ‘into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.’ This isn’t a harsh God, who takes us into wilderness times to punish us, but to gently show us new ways of living, and to show us how His love for us is all we need. He goes on to say: ‘There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achora door of hope’ (v.15 NIV). Achor means trouble. Here God’s saying that the wilderness is the place where He will return the things that have been taken away, and their trouble will be turned to hope. If we thought that the wilderness times would be where God blesses us, and creates fresh hope in us, we probably wouldn’t be so reluctant to embrace it. Instead of thinking that He’s punishing us, or has left us, we can trust in His goodness and know that He’s helping us reach our potential.
Listen to the song ‘Blessed be your name’ by Matt Redman. Whether you’re in the wilderness, or the land of plenty, choose to praise God today.
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