“How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness and grieved Him in the desert! Again and again they tempted God, and pained the Holy One of Israel. They did not remember His power, the day when He redeemed them from the adversary.”(Psalm 78:40-42 NASB)
Boy, these verses spoke to me today. I’m finally starting to grasp the purpose of being led into the wilderness or into the desert places. These times of testing are not only to increase our faith but to help us remember God’s power--how He helped us through trials in the past. How He redeemed us from our enemy. Remembering will keep us from losing faith. It will help us remain confident in our God so we can continually trust Him while we walk through the desert and on to rivers of living water, instead of panicking and turning back.
If we will remember all that God has done for us in the past, these wilderness times will teach us perserverance, trust, and hope. They will keep us from becoming prideful and forgetting that all we are and all we have comes from the LORD, our Maker. Wilderness times will strengthen our determination to live for the Lord. But if we forget all that the Lord has done for us, we are likely to feel disappointment, betrayal, fear, and loneliness. We are more likely to want to turn back to our “Egypt”, our personal places of captivity.
Recently, I’ve begun reading my old journal entries from 2004 and 2005. I’ve been remembering those awesome days when I would wake up full of joy and peace and light. What a contrast to the days of darkness I had faced the year before. My circumstances had not changed, yet I was looking at life through new eyes. It was the power of the Word that had so filled my mind and stopped my panic attacks and the filling of the Spirit that had freed my soul from anxiety and depression. God had answered my desperate pleas for help—for change in the deepest part of me--and I had finally been able to let go of all of my fears and to entrust my life and my loved ones to my Lord and my God. I had allowed myself to just “be” in the presence of the Lord. God had changed me from a “Martha” into a “Mary” who could sit at Jesus’ feet without worrying what needed to be done next.
I don’t want to be like the Israelites in the wilderness who rebelled against God when the going got tough. I don’t want to grieve Him while I’m in the desert. I want to remember His power! I want to thank Him and praise Him and believe Him, no matter what my circumstances look like. I want to think back on all He’s done for me and be able to say, “If He did that for me then, He will help me now! He will never leave me nor forsake me.” Why? Because He loves me, His Word says so, and also “so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1:12, NASB)
If you can’t remember a time when God was your only resource, then let today be the day you totally lean on Him. Let today be the day you start believing God. Give up all rights to having life your way, and just turn everything over to Him. Then start keeping a journal as you begin each day in the Word and in prayer and fellowship with Him. Start expecting Him to reveal Himself. When He does, write it down and give Him praise. Then you’ll be on your way to having a record of remembrance of God’s power at work in your life. A record you can look back on when you’re in the wilderness or in a desert-place. Until then read about how God revealed His power on behalf of His people in His Word. There are so many inspiring passages telling of His marvelous deeds. If you're like me, you may even find yourself in some of them.