For some reason, the Israelites’ 40 years of desert wandering has always fascinated me, so I read about it often. Take a look with me at Deuteronomy 8:2:
“Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”
Ever wondered about this “testing your heart” business? God is all knowing, right? He already knew their hearts! So why the test? It occurs to me that maybe it was the people who needed to see their own hearts. God already knew, but maybe they needed a reality check. Maybe God wanted to put their faith to the test to show them how hollow it was. Or maybe God allowed difficulties to come their way in order to expose their prideful self-reliance. There’s nothing like wandering in the desert hungry, thirsty, and lost to make you realize your limitations.
Take a look at the next verse:
“He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on the word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Dt 8:3
Boom. There it is! God purposefully put the Israelites in a place of need so he could bring some things to light. Because only when they were hungry, thirsty, and lost could they truly see:
The emptiness of their faith
They knew the right words to say. They went through the right motions. But confessing trust with your mouth and living it with your life are two very different things.
Their spiritual bankruptcy.
Despite living a lifetime of devotion to God, they were still sinful and unable to faithfully follow him.
Their complete helplessness.
In the middle of the desert, they were totally helpless to feed or clothe themselves. There was absolutely nothing they could do to meet their own needs.
The limitless wealth of God.
Their hollow faith and selfish hearts had been exposed. Their need was obvious. And God’s provision was all that was left. Ironically, it was also all they needed.
The desert: a place of desolation and struggle. But that’s exactly where God wanted them. Because now they were humble and ready to depend on him. And God didn’t disappoint! Throughout every day of their desert wandering, God met their needs.
So what about me? What about you? Walking through a desert in your own life? Feeling lonely? Scrapping the bottom of the barrel financially? Lost and without direction? God sees you. And maybe you’re exactly where God wants you. Now its’ time to let go of your prideful self-reliance, confess your limitations, and trust God. Really trust him. He’s waiting to show you his love and faithfulness in a way you never saw coming.