If you are a follower of Jesus, you can expect to walk through spiritual wilderness. You can’t predict when or where the wilderness moments will come, but be assured, you will experience them. As I’ve said before, the wilderness is intense, isolating, and it has the potential to crush you spiritually. But the wilderness is also sacred.
The wilderness is sacred, and one way we know about the importance of the wilderness experience is how God views both the wilderness and his children who walk through it. We see this in a short statement from Paul in the book of Acts. He’s preaching to a group of Jews in Antioch. Paul is giving a brief history of the nation of Israel, and this is what he says about the 40 years they spend wandering the wilderness after escaping Egyptian slavery:
“He put up with them through forty years of wandering in the wilderness.” -Acts 13:18 NLT
God Cares + Puts Up With Us
If you read that scripture in your bible, you’ll notice a footnote after the phrase, “He put up with them.” It is also translated in some manuscripts as “He cared for them.” I would argue, both phrases should be used in this passage. God both put up with and cared for his people as they wandered through the wilderness.
When you wander your own wilderness:
- God cares for you.
- God puts up with you.
This is how the 18th century scholar, Matthew Henry, put it:
“And every view…of the Lord’s dealings with his church, reminds us of his mercy and long-suffering, and of man’s ingratitude and perverseness.”-Matthew Henry
In our wilderness moments, we are full of ingratitude, and we are perverse (not in the deep ways we normally think of this word, but we simply do not fully trust or obey God). Yet, God reminds us of his great mercy and his incredible patience. This is not how we typically think or feel during these days, weeks, months or even years of living in the wilderness.
We see ourselves as alone and abandoned.
However, God is caring for you. He provides – even if it is only just enough. And God puts up with you. He overlooks your frustration and ingratitude of this provision. You are not alone. You are not abandoned. God is with you. God loves you.
The wilderness is sacred because it shapes us, but also because we see how God cares for us and puts up with us when we need him most.
Expect to walk through wilderness moments, but trust God both caring for you and putting up with you. God is with you. God loves you.