Wilderness Experiences

Wilderness Experiences

By Steve Downs

Exodus 15-17 is the account of God dealing with the Israelites in the wilderness.  We all go through “wilderness experiences” in life.  These experiences are often what God uses to chisel and grow us into a deeper maturity in our walk with Jesus.

To fully understand the lessons God is teaching the Israelites through these wilderness experiences in Exodus, we need to be reminded of the events that took place right before.  The Israelites had just experienced the amazing deliverance from slavery/bondage in Egypt and the miraculous rescue at the Red Sea from the approaching Egyptian army.  Two of the most unbelievable examples of God’s power and grace in all of history.  Right after these events, God leads them into the wilderness and immediately they begin to grumble and complain.

  • Exodus 15:22-25 – the people grumbled because the water was bitter – God miraculously provided pure sweet water to satisfy their thirst.
  • Exodus 16:1-3 – the Israelites complained they had no food – they cried out to return back to slavery in Egypt – God provided mana in the morning and quail at night.
  • Exodus 17:1-6 – the people grumbled and quarreled with Moses – they had no adequate drinking water – once again God provided.

Despite just experiencing two of the greatest miracles of all time, the Israelites displayed a complete lack of faith, total disrespect/disdain for God, and had ungrateful and self-centered hearts.  Lest we arrogantly and foolishly criticize these folks too much, we should remember how often we fall into the same trap and treat God in a similar manner in our own lives.  We have such short memories of His faithfulness, goodness, and provision, and we are so ungrateful and disrespectful to Him.

The reality is human nature has not changed.  People react and think the same way as they did back at the beginning of human history.  We must never ignore or forget history but learn from it and strive not to keep repeating the same foolish responses to our wilderness experiences.
God takes us all through wilderness experiences in life.  Whether it is the frustration and heartbreak of raising kids, difficult relationships with others, problems and disappointments from our work/careers, struggles with our personal financial situation, or pain and limitations experienced because of health issues/limitations, etc., God takes you through wilderness experiences in order to get you ready for His promised land in Caanan.

We must continually remind ourselves of God’s love, faithfulness, trustworthiness, dependability, and goodness from the stories in the Bible.  We must remember His faithfulness and goodness in walking us through our own personal wilderness experiences in the past.  Stop grumbling and complaining when He takes us through uncomfortable and difficult wilderness experiences.  Remember for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose, He promises to always work all things for the good (Romans 8:28).  He will be faithful to use these experiences as tools to grow and mature you in your walk of faith in Christ.
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