When I started going through a hard time recently..i was confused. Every single day I kept on encountering a challenge after another. Minor ones, big ones, easy ones and difficult ones. Its not like my life has been a smooth ride all along, its just that I have never encountered difficulties in such close proximity with each other. Like on days when I had no challenges, I woke up feeling alone and tired and hopeless.
And so I went on to God with the whole issue. My prayer? That God tells me what’s going on. I remember telling Him that I don’t mind starving for a whole year if that’s what’s up, provided He tells me before that ‘Mercy, you are going to starve for this whole year or go through A, B, C, D’. I remember complaining to a friend how its not the challenges I have a problem with, its the communication between God and me that I’m struggling with.
Did God answer me? Of course He did. Using last Sunday’s sermon. We were reading and going through Numbers 1-14. And through that God admonished me while making how He works clear to me. The Israelites used to move depending on the cloud of God that used to be above them. When it started moving, they packed their bags and moved. When it stopped, they stopped. At times it could stop for 2 days and at times for 2 months. No one knew how long they would be in a certain place except God- but God ensured that when it was time to move, He showed them through the cloud.
God wanted me to understand that He is my cloud. When He says I move, I move, when he says I stay, I stay. For how long? That’s entirely upto Him. But for sure when the time for moving comes, He will tell me or move me. I understood that.
Did my bad times go away? They got worse. So there I was back again to God with Dear God I mean, I now know that my life is ordained by God, but whatever I’m going through, is hard. And if you ask me, it doesn’t seem like the word I have from God and my situation are going hand in hand. I was promised prosperity, here I am at the bottom most of things. And so on goes the list.
So I went back to God. This time round, my strength was at its end. I was weary. And God sent an Angel inform of someone I know to ensure that that spark does not go off yet. She does not know how much God used her, ni zile za she says something to me that only God knows I needed to hear that. Or sends a verse, not knowing that God intentionally chose that because its my favorite chapter in the bible( like with all the complaining I do of how poor I am in memory verses, I know James 1 almost all of it off head, how? I don’t know).
God is faithful. I told you I’ll tell you this a thousand times and it will still not be an overemphasize. He answered my biggest question of all during this time. What on earth am I going through?
A wilderness. That’s what I’m going through. And its different from God’s refinery written about here. A wilderness is where God intentionally picks you up from a mountain/a good place and leads you to a bad place. From enjoyment to discomfort and want. Moses, Jesus and Elijah went through this quite literally.
Or to describe it otherwise, its the period in between God’s promises and the actual promise coming true. That period between Abraham being promised a son and actually getting Isaac. That period between David being anointed King and actually being King.
And I’ll just summarize today’s sermon that spoke right into my situation.
While in the wilderness, there are three things that could happen or tempt you;
1. Prioritizing God’s gifts and promises above the giver.
Notice, not prioritizing bad or immoral thing; God’s gifts. In my case I had prioritized what God had said He will do in my life and how I’m going to see His goodness in the land of the living. Its not that those things are bad, its just that God should take precedence above them.
Which is why when Jesus was tempted with bread( something he needed then and sincerely was good for his starving body), he replied, man shall not live by bread(read -the promises and gifts God has told you He will give you) alone, but by God’s word- that is man shall live by the fellowship he or she has with God. On simple terms, God comes first before His deeds or promised deeds in your life. He should be the focus, not his goodies.
2. The temptation of seeing God/interpreting God through our situation/wilderness.
This is where we look at life and at God through the lenses of what we are going through. We minimize Him or reduce Him to our situation or simply take Him out of the equation completely. We start doubting whether God is really with us. And if He is, why am I going through this? Is God God? Is God good? Is God able? Personally I have struggled with this one, is God willing? Like I know He is mighty and able, but does He really feel like saving me from this situation, because it certainly doesn’t seem that way.
We were asked this question that struck a chord. But I’ll twist it a bit to suite this, assuming 5 Christians were interviewed for a job, and Kamau got the job. The other 4 didn’t. Who was God with among the 5? Who did God favour among the 5? Definitely all our minds answered Kamau. Yet God’s word shows clearly that He is with all 5 Christians, He loves them equally, He has ordained their lives, He cares for them and will ensure that things work out for the good of all 5.
What I got from that example is that I usually think that God is with me during good times and when I’m winning. Not when times are rough. Yet, God is with me even through the hard times He leads me through. He promises to never forsake me nor leave me.
3. Pursuing God’s things the wrong way.
This is where God has already told you where He is taking you. Like the Israelites knew where they were going. But then we feel and think that maybe God is taking too long or is using hard methods. So what do we do? We take a shortcut or an easier way. To where? Not back to Egypt, to the land God promised us but we decided to Help God.
I’ve done this severally with traveling. Like I know God has personally assured me that He will fulfill my wildest dreams and even go beyond when it comes to traveling. But at times I use my own means that I know are not good or moral to just go see somewhere. In the process I get myself into shit that would have been avoided if I just waited upon God. Waiting is not easy as I put it here .But in the long run, from experience, waiting upon God is always worth it.
So question is, do you trust that whoever took you to the wilderness is faithful enough to see you through it?
Here are 3 things to help us in our wildernesses.
1. Your identity is from God.
Its not from your joblessness, sickness, bad marriage, singlehood, financial situation etc. It is from God. Nothing describes you perfectly beyond * God’s Child*. That is who we are. Not our situations, actions or sins. Our God defines us.
2. Never forget to build your intimacy with God.
Do your devotions as well as you were doing them when all things were good. It might be hard, but persist. Personally I had started doing deep analysis of the word, that was feeding me immensely. I had absolutely no idea how much I could feed off from the bible until I started reading the word the right way. I wrote about it here.
And then I was dropped right into my wilderness, guess what disappeared? That deep devotion. I still pray and once in a while listen or read the bible. But not as intentional as i was before the wilderness. Definitely I’ll pray for strength to go back to daily devotions.
Otherwise when God comes, how will I hear Him if I’m not tuned in to Him?
3. You have done nothing to deserve to be here.
God puts us in these wildernesses. Its a trial or test and not a temptation. A trial/test is what God uses to strengthen my faith, temptations are what the devil uses to weaken our faith. As James 1 puts it, I should consider it pure joy when going through trials of various kinds, because ultimately God is using them to build me up and make me complete and ready for His work. So its not like its my sins or anything I didn’t do that is causing me to go through this. Its like school. I have to be trained and equipped for what’s ahead. So this trials and test are a sign of a new level coming. I feel like saying a hallelujah at this point!
Anyway, in this desert there are some things that I have learnt that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Like depending on God daily. Financially that is. I finished school having never gone broke. Like there is no day I went to school with only fare to and fro like today. Today I was giving my offering thinking that I only have fare to go back to the house. Yet I had plans for tomorrow and deep inside my heart I knew I would go through with them. And God has provided. I haven’t gotten into debt. I don’t think I’m ever going to worry about tomorrow when I lived a day when today was all I wanted God to take me through.
All in all, I’m glad I know that in this wilderness, God is here with me. Molding me. Its hard, but its the only way to be a hero of faith.