40 Days in the Wilderness
Key Verse to Read and Treasure
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after forty days and forty nights he was hungry. (Matthew 4:1-2, ESV)
After Jesus was baptized by John the Spirit led him into the wilderness for the purpose of being tempted (tested by the devil) at the end.
When we are reading this we automatically spiritually and mentally jump to and focus on Jesus’ victory over temptation at the end of his fasting for 40 days. Jesus was hungry but he resisted the devil’s temptations with flying colors. But if we sit with this account for a bit, we will have a deeper understanding of Jesus experience in the wilderness. We will better understand that he suffered on his way to victory over temptation.
Jesus was God but he was also human/man/flesh. There’s no way he was not hungry after 40 days. Most of us—unless we are food insecure and lacking proper nutrition—will never or rarely experience real hunger. At best our stomachs get become empty and we begin to experience the beginnings of hunger pangs, hear some growls and then we head off to get something to eat as quickly as possible as though we are on the brink of starvation.
But there was no wheat stalks for Jesu to grab and nibble on and even in his hunger Jesus resisted the temptation to make food or bread for himself way before the devil tempted him to do so. Jesus didn’t make water come from a rock though he could have, but he felt every one of those 40 days without food. Jesus suffered every day before he had victory and breakthrough.
In this life we’re going to go through wilderness experiences. Times where it seems the doors of Hell have opened to swallow us alive. Times we will be crying out to Almighty God to save and deliver us, but no answer or deliverance comes. Times our pain is not eased, nor our circumstances changed no matter how hard or long we pray and fast. Times our burdens will feel too heavy for us to bear any longer. Times we are soul thirsty and there is no relief; where our suffering is long, deep and unbreakable.
The Bible says the Lord disciplines the one he loves. If he accepts us as his son and daughter we will be disciplined and undergo the vinedressers shears on our branches. (Read Hebrews 12:6)
Victories are sweet and welcomed but wildernesses are necessary, and we will not avoid them. One congregation we started was filled with members that were undergoing wilderness experiences in their personal lives. They would worship in tears, cry their prayers, feel the heat of struggle in their circumstances. At the conclusion of their journeys some emerged with the keys to the home they had been praying for, some had the car they had been praying for, some had that long-awaited promotion at work they had been striving in prayer for, others experienced the healing they had been fasting and praying for.
To some all they saw was the result, until they heard their testimonies, they didn’t know the struggle; the time spent in the wilderness, the time spent waiting for God to release or deliver them. As our youngest daughter loves to say “It’s one thing to show someone the keys to your new home and claim the victory but its another thing to be willing to tell them about the struggle to get those set of keys.
Anyone can wave the victory flag and witness to others from a place of triumph but the true testimony that wins a soul for Jesus is the testimony of suffering before the victory.
If you are a son or daughter of God, you are going to suffer. You are going to spend time hungry and thirsting in the wilderness. You are going to feel the fiery heat of Hell slapping your backside, you are going to walk a mile or two or three in the wilderness, before God shows you the way out or provides the answer, but as long as you abide in the vine of Jesus you are guaranteed to have the victory in Jesus’ name.
Father God, I know I will experience time in the wilderness during my lifetime. Because I am God’s son/daughter wilderness experiences are going to be part of my testimony to others. Thank you for giving me a story to share that will encourage someone else. Amen
What’s your story? What wilderness testimony do you have to share with someone that will help them know Jesus as you do?
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