Surviving the wilderness
What will God do when your life is going wrong? Find out!
“Oh, stop being so dramatic.” Mel threw her books into our gym locker. “You live in the suburbs, Kelly, not the wilderness.”
I disagreed. “I’m not kidding, Mel. I must have done something to make God mad at me. For two weeks now, nothing has gone right. I don’t understand why - ”
Mel slammed the locker door wearing an expression I’d never seen on her before. “If that’s true, Kelly - if your circumstance is punishment for something you’ve done wrong, then you’re a liar.”
Did my best friend just call me a liar?
“You said God’s love is no-matter-what. You said belief changed everything.” Mel started to tear up. “You said -”
“I know, but...”
“Fine,” said Mel, “ So you lost your boyfriend, and your A in Calculus.”
“And my favorite earrings.” I made sure she didn’t forget.
“Whatever.” Mel shook her head. “I lost my Mum, Kelly. What awful thing did I do to deserve that?”
WHAT YOU DESERVE
Everyday, we experience the consequence of sin (ours and others’). We get sick. We get hurt. We lose those we love. We receive discipline for imperfection and ridicule for mistakes.
Do any of these sound familiar?
- Jealousy of a friend
- A speeding ticket
- Divorced parents
- Fouling out
- Hurt feelings
Seeing as the world doesn’t display it, it’s hard to wrap our mind around complete acceptance, around once-and-for-all forgiveness. Sure, punishment and consequence will often leave us with a lesson, but God’s love isn’t fickle like ours. In fact, He’s quite the opposite.
In the world, “You get what you deserve” is a familiar phrase. It’s also a big, fat lie.
Think about it... If it were true:
- Bullies wouldn’t win.
- Good people would keep healthy.
- Our goals would never include wealth or popularity
- The innocent would be free.
God’s Word would be false.
So if God is opposite, then we don’t get what we deserve. Right? Right! Romans 6:23 states clearly what we deserve, “For the wages of sin is death.” Now, Paul isn’t writing about the physical kind of death. This death means spiritual separation from God, forever.
Thankfully, God’s grace, changes everything. When the grace of God flips your world, with God, you get what Jesus deserved.
Although every person has earned eternal death as a payment for our sins, and no different than you earn wages for your work, we can receive God’s gift; His Son, instead. After accepting Jesus, Paul says it’s foolish to try to maintain by works what we’ve received for free. (See Galatians 3:3).
SURVIVING THE WILDERNESS
Accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior is just the beginning. It takes a lifetime of perseverance and unwavering hope to actually live like we believe Him. Especially when life doesn’t go as we expect. Especially when life feels like punishment.
Take a moment:
- Whom or what do you seek in the wilderness?
- When life feels like punishment, what do you think of God?
Mel became my faithful accountability partner, and she wasn’t even a believer at the time. Not only did Mel listen to me share about Jesus, she was quick to point out the contradictions in my life. Mel never demanded a reason for her wilderness seasons. She wasn’t looking for magical proof. All Mel wanted was consistency. She wanted actions to prove faith and she looked to me.
Mel watched to see if I placed my hope in what cannot be lost. Not even in the wilderness.
HOW ABOUT YOU?
What first comes to mind when you read the word Wilderness?
Is it adventure and the great outdoors? Unknown dangers and uninhabited places? I picture an unshaven man who’s lived on berries, nuts, and canned beans for a month.
DID YOU KNOW?
The word wilderness appears in the Bible 305 times (KJV). That’s more times than grace and hope - combined! It feels good to read these words and hang their verses on our wall, and we should because God’s Word is personal. But no less than grace and hope fill our lives, so too will wilderness reality. In fact, life on Earth forever revolves around the wilderness.
The Word says Jesus was led into the wilderness, and by the Holy Spirit of all persons (See Matthew 4:1). There, Jesus resisted temptation using the Word of God and ate nothing for forty days. We read, “He was hungry.” ... Ya think?!
LIVE IT OUT
Do you find yourself in a wilderness season?
Are you hungering for something lost or out of reach?
Read Psalm 103:10-14 and write it on a notecard. Place this in your locker, on your mirror, or in your backpack to remind you of God’s incredible grace. Jesus will not skirt you around this wilderness, but He will get you through!
Unlike the world, God keeps his promises.