Most of us would not like to spend a vacation in the wilderness. It is defined as:
Wilderness – an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.
As we move into the season of Lent, we study Jesus who walked into the wilderness where he spent 40 days and 40 nights. In the wilderness there is not a lot to do; it is by definition “uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable.” There were no gardens for Jesus to tend,, no people to talk to, and no local restaurants to untie his sandals and enjoy a beverage.
There are many books that say they can teach you how to survive in the wilderness. Finding clean water is critical. Learning how to locate plants and animals for food is also important. Protecting yourself from the elements, both the heat of the sun and the cold of the night, will help keep you alive.
But what happens to our souls when we are in a spiritual wilderness? When we feel that the landscape of our souls is desolate and barren, where do we turn?
When loneliness and despair threaten to overcome us in these seasons of barrenness where do we find hope?
During times of uncertainty and anxiety and times of wondering “what next?, “ we need to pause and give thanks, for hope is found in the wilderness. Jesus, as God in the flesh, willingly walked into the wilderness to prepare for his ministry. Temptations did come, but God gave him strength to fight. Questions did arise, but God provided wisdom and courage to respond.
The same God who strengthened Christ is here to strengthen us, fill us with courage, and guide our steps both as individuals and as a community of faith. John Wesley, one of the founders of American Methodism, put it well:
The best of all is, God is with us.”