A solitary figure stands at the edge of a desolate desert, bathed in the golden glow of the setting sun, their silhouette merging with the vastness of the barren landscape.

When God Leads You Into The Wilderness

Have you ever felt like you were wandering aimlessly through a barren wilderness, unsure of God’s purpose or plan? You may be surprised to learn that God often leads His people into seasons of wilderness for good reason.

If you’re short on time, here’s the key point: God leads us into wilderness seasons to strengthen our faith, refine our character, reveal His glory, and draw us into deeper intimacy with Him.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the top 5 reasons God leads us into wilderness seasons, back each one with biblical examples, and leave you encouraged that the wilderness has purpose – both in biblical history and your personal walk with God today.

To Build Our Faith and Dependence on Him

The Israelites in the desert after the Exodus

After God miraculously delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt through the Exodus, He purposely led them into the wilderness for 40 years before bringing them into the Promised Land (Exodus 16:35).

This was to humble them and test them to see if they would follow His commands (Deuteronomy 8:2). God provided manna and quail for them to eat, but they still grumbled and complained. Yet through this difficult wilderness period, the older faithless generation died off, and the younger generation learned to trust and follow God.

They saw firsthand God’s love and provision, which built their faith and dependence on Him alone.

Though the Israelite wilderness journey was uncomfortable and trying, it accomplished God’s purpose of building their faith and total reliance on Him. Similarly, believers today often find seasons where God leads them into a “wilderness” of suffering, loss, or disappointment for the same refining purpose.

If we patiently trust Him through the lean times, we’ll grow deeper spiritually. As Deuteronomy 8:3 (NIV) says, “…man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

Jesus fasting in the wilderness before public ministry

Before Jesus began His public ministry, the Holy Spirit led Him into the Judean wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days (Matthew 4:1-2). There He suffered intense hunger and temptation from Satan to sin and abandon His messianic mission.

Jesus refused to give in, firmly quoting Scripture back to the devil (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). After this grueling experience, He emerged victorious and empowered by the Spirit to begin preaching the gospel of the kingdom powerfully (Luke 4:14).

Just as the 40 years in the desert humbled Israel yet readied them for Canaan, Jesus’ 40 days fasting in barren isolation specifically equipped Him for the mission ahead. By clinging closely to God for sustenance and strength when severely tested, Christ exemplified firm reliance and perfect obedience.

All four Gospels highlight Jesus overcoming this temptation in the wilderness as preparation for serving God’s purpose. Believers can emulate Christ’s steadfast faith during trials that equip us for greater fruitfulness.

To Refine Our Character

Developing patience in adversity

Life often leads us into seasons of difficulty that require great patience. Financial strains, chronic health issues, troubled relationships, and unrealized dreams can make anyone feel disillusioned. Yet as Christians, we know that God uses adversity to refine our character and draw us closer to Himself (Romans 5:3-5).

Here are some ways we can develop godly patience in times of hardship:

First, renew your perspective. Remind yourself that this season is temporary and that God promises to be with you through it all (Psalm 23:4). Ask Him to open your eyes to any lessons He wants you to learn or changes He wants to make in you.

Second, cling to God’s Word. Biblical truths about God’s sovereignty, goodness, and faithfulness are anchors for the soul when storms arise (Psalm 119:25-28). Set aside special time to read encouraging Scriptures.

Third, pour out your heart to God. Don’t bottle up your emotions – bring your pain, confusion, and questions to the Lord. Ask Him for strength to endure one day at a time (Matthew 6:34).

Fourth, look for reasons to be thankful. Gratitude helps diffuse negative emotions and keeps our focus on God’s blessings rather than our circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Even little gifts like sunshine, music, or a call from a friend reveal God’s love.

Finally, serve others. Reaching out of ourselves to help someone in need gets our eyes off our own situation. We also sow spiritual blessings that God promises we’ll reap in due time (Galatians 6:9-10).

With Jesus as our example of persevering faith (Hebrews 12:1-3), we can develop patience that honors God and blesses others even in wilderness seasons.

Learning humility and trusting God’s provision

Wilderness experiences also teach us humility and dependence on God. In prosperous times, it’s easy to become self-reliant and forget our need for God’s daily provision and grace. But when we can’t control circumstances that strip away our independence, we learn humility.

Here are some ways wilderness seasons can develop humble trust:

First, we learn to pray more fervently. Hardships drive us to God in desperation. When we realize we can’t handle things alone, we cry out to Him as our only hope (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). As we bring our needs before Him, our faith grows.

Second, we develop gratitude for daily blessings. In prosperity we often take for granted simple gifts like food, shelter, health. But in lean times, even bare necessities become treasures. When we lack resources, we better appreciate God’s gracious hand of provision (Deuteronomy 8:2-3).

Third, we grow more dependent on God’s Word. In adversity our craving for the spiritual nourishment of Scripture increases. We cling to God’s promises about His care, seeking Him daily for renewing strength and hope (Isaiah 40:29-31).

Fourth, we look forward to eternal riches. Wilderness seasons remind us that this world is not our home. Difficulties keep our focus on our glorious inheritance in Christ (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Our problems shrink when viewed from the perspective of eternity.

Fifth, we find contentment despite circumstances. We learn that true life is found in Jesus alone – not in what we possess or control (Philippians 4:10-13). As pride melts away, we rest joyfully in Him.

God knows exactly how to use adversity to transform us into the humble, trusting believers He desires. By embracing the wilderness with faith, we’ll be refined and blessed beyond what we can imagine (1 Peter 1:6-7).

To Reveal His Power and Glory

God sustained the Israelites supernaturally

God showcased His awesome power by providing for the Israelites in miraculous ways during their 40 years in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35). When they were hungry, He rained down manna from heaven and brought quail into their camp (Exodus 16:11-15).

When they were thirsty, God instructed Moses to strike a rock with his staff, causing water to gush out (Exodus 17:1-7). These provisions enabled approximately 2 million Israelites to survive in an arid desert for 40 years. Truly, only an all-powerful God could have sustained them.

In addition, God led the Israelites by pillars of cloud and fire, protecting them from the burning sun during the day and illuminating their camp at night (Exodus 13:21-22). The cloud also allowed them to travel by day or night. When the pillar of cloud moved, they followed it.

These supernatural pillars were a constant reminder of God’s real presence among His people.

Moreover, God gave the Israelites miraculous victories over their enemies. When the Amalekites attacked them at Rephidim, as long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites prevailed (Exodus 17:8-13). God also parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to walk across on dry ground, then closed the waters over the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:21-31).

The Israelite clothes and sandals did not even wear out during the 40 years (Deuteronomy 29:5)! Clearly, God’s power was on full display.

The Exodus story displays God’s power to the nations

God intended the Exodus story to testify of His supremacy to all people. When Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, God sent 10 plagues on Egypt to show He alone was Lord (Exodus 7:14-11:10). The tenth plague, the death of the firstborn males, finally broke Pharaoh’s resolve.

These extraordinary miracles revealed God’s power over all Egyptian gods.

In fact, Exodus records four main purposes of the plagues [1]:

  1. To show God’s power over and superiority to the gods of Egypt (Exodus 12:12).
  2. To force Pharaoh to let Israel go (Exodus 7:16; 9:1).
  3. To show the Israelites God’s ability to deliver them (Exodus 6:6; 16:6).
  4. To show the world God’s power as an evangelistic witness (Exodus 9:16; Joshua 2:10).

Interestingly, God even hardened Pharaoh’s heart to force him to oppose letting Israel go (Exodus 4:21). This amplified the devastation, highlighting God’s absolute supremacy.

God’s great power through the Exodus compelled many to worship Him. For instance, the Israelites put their faith in God after crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 14:31). Rahab told the Israelite spies she feared their God who dried up the Red Sea (Joshua 2:9-11).

Even in the New Testament, Stephen mentions the Exodus miracles before his death (Acts 7:35-36). Without a doubt, God used the Exodus to put His glory and power on global display.

To Bring Us into a Deeper Relationship with Him

The wilderness removes distractions

When God leads us into seasons of adversity and isolation, it is often to remove the distractions of everyday life that keep us from pursuing closeness with Him (Isaiah 43:2). The busyness and noise of regular routines can prevent us from hearing God’s gentle whispers.

But in the stillness and solitude of the wilderness, we become more attuned to the Shepherd’s voice (Psalm 23:2). We are finally able to quiet our souls and listen to His direction.

Additionally, the wilderness strips away superficial securities, forcing us to recognize our utter dependence on God. Caught in difficult circumstances beyond our control, we have no choice but to cling to Him for provision and guidance, often crying out to Him in ways we never would have otherwise.

And He meets us there in fresh and intimate ways – speaking words of comfort, revealing His nearness, showering us with grace. What first seemed an unwelcome wilderness soon becomes a place of life-changing encounter with the Living God.

Solitude and adversity draw us close to God

There is something about solitude, suffering and sharing in Christ’s sufferings that has a way of softening our hearts and opening our ears to God’s voice (Psalm 66:10-12). Alone with Him in the desert places, stripped of self-reliance, we gain new spiritual eyes to see Him more clearly.

Our pursuits and anxieties fade to the background as we recognize in new ways His supreme sufficiency. Pride and self-absorption melt away as we cast all our cares on Him, humble and dependent as little children.

And somehow, sharing in His sufferings through our own, we feel a special closeness and intimacy with Christ – joining in mysterious fellowship with His pain (Philippians 3:10). Through the valleys He leads us into, we gain a richer experience of His faithfulness, develop deeper compassion for others, and emerge with more wholehearted devotion to the One who never leaves our side.

The wilderness that first seemed so barren becomes unexpectedly fruitful in forging bonds of eternal love.

To Prepare Us for Ministry and Purpose

Jesus launched his ministry after the wilderness

After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus spent 40 days and nights fasting and praying in the Judean wilderness. This intense spiritual experience prepared him to begin his earthly ministry. When Jesus emerged from the wilderness, he was ready to preach the gospel and call people to repentance (Matthew 4:17).

His time in the wilderness fortified his spiritual strength and resolve to fulfill his God-given purpose on earth.

Jesus faced temptation from the devil during his wilderness experience (Matthew 4:1-11). Resisting these temptations steeled his obedience to God. The solitude of the wilderness also clarified Jesus’ mission and calling.

Through prayer and fasting, he gained wisdom, discernment and courage for the work ahead. This season of isolation and deprivation equipped Jesus for the challenges of public ministry. It deepened his spiritual resources and forged his inner maturity as the Son of God.

Moses encountered God in the wilderness before leadership

Moses spent 40 years in the wilderness before God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. As a young man, Moses impulsively killed an Egyptian slave master and fled to the desert of Midian (Exodus 2:11-15).

During these obscure, stateless years as a shepherd, Moses learned vital lessons in humility, patience and reliance on God.

It was in the wilderness that Moses had his burning bush encounter with God (Exodus 3:1-4:17). God revealed himself to Moses and commissioned him to confront Pharaoh. The wilderness molded Moses’ character and prepared him for the challenges of national leadership.

Through isolation and obscurity, God shaped Moses into an instrument for deliverance.

Some key ways the wilderness prepared Moses for leadership:

  • It humbled him and developed patience after years as an Egyptian prince.
  • It taught him endurance and resourcefulness as a shepherd.
  • It removed distractions so he could hear God’s voice.
  • It seasoned his faith during long, obscure years of waiting.
  • It allowed communion with God through creation.

Time and again, God has used the wilderness to forge character and deepen communion with leaders. Moses stands as an archetype of how desert seasons uniquely prepare God’s servants for the tasks ahead. While counterintuitive, the wilderness equips in ways that no palace or classroom can.


If you feel stuck wandering a bleak wilderness today, take heart – God always has purpose in the pain. Lean into Him, build your faith muscle, allow your character to be refined, keep your eyes open to see His glory displayed, and watch what He does through you on the other side!

What wilderness is God calling you through today? How might He want to use this season to prepare you for deeper intimacy with Him and great purpose ahead?

Similar Posts