I often spend my days feeling like I’m always on the edge of doing something original and amazing, but I could never seem to get there. Many articles that I’ve read and the friends I’ve talked to expressed the same frustrations.
Do you ever feel like most people around you are accomplishing big things, making good money, or traveling the world—basically everything you wish you could be doing—while you rot in your cramped little cubicle or mope around unemployed at home? Personally, I know exactly what that season is like. That feeling of unproductiveness oftentimes leads to the feeling of inadequacy, worthlessness, and meaninglessness—all of which are toxic build-ups to depression.
Fortunately, having come out of that pitch-black hole alive, I could testify to you that it does indeed get better. God isn’t one to quit on His children, even if He allows us to wander through the wilderness for a few years. And try to digest this: everyone who pursues a relationship with Jesus will encounter his or her own wilderness season(s). It is actually completely necessary in our personal journeys with Christ to have a season where we are left with almost nothing, except to look up and trust in Him.
That is when our relationship with God will deepen—when we’re finally put in the position where we’d have to surrender our ego, self-righteousness, and earthly wisdom, and have no other true options but to just take the next step by faith.
We usually admit that we’re in the wilderness when we’ve already crashed and burned due to all the different pressures, but the truth is that many times, we’ve been heading towards that direction long before we even realized it. We’re not alone. Even our Christian brothers and sisters who seem like they “have it all together” most likely experienced their own season of wilderness as well. If not, you can be sure that it will come. Think of the wilderness as a rite of passage, so to speak. Everyone, or at least every believer, should be expected to experience the wilderness at one point or another in his or her walk of faith.
However, the wilderness should not be feared because it gives us the opportunity to strengthen our faith in Him, who promises to pull us through. 1 Peter 1:7 says, “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.” When we feel like we have nothing left, that is when our faith is being tested. It wouldn’t be called “faith” otherwise. If there weren’t any uncertainties involved, how then could we say that we are truly faithful?
I hate uncertainty, and I understand that a shaky future could look really hopeless at times, but I encourage you to endure it when your faith is being tested by fire. If your faith could withstand the fire and the trials, then you will be able to shake the dust off your feet and walk away with a more genuine and unshakeable faith in Christ than before. See, that is the nature of our faithfulness—it must be tested so it could be purified, just like gold.
When I looked at myself as God’s daughter rather than just His believer, there was suddenly more purpose behind my painfully tedious waiting season.
It was so incredibly comforting and reassuring to know that God chooses to discipline and shape me because he cares about my character, my future, and my faithfulness. Out of his desire for me to have a genuine faith, a meaningful future, and a godly character, He thought it would be good to allow me to go through the wilderness season.
All of this has been recorded in Scripture. Hebrews 12:7-8 says, “As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all.” This passage gave me a tremendous sense of reassurance when I was going through my season of wilderness because it reminded me, again and again, that God was allowing this “divine discipline” to happen out of His astounding love for me.
When we think about the wilderness through the lens of God as our loving and good father, we will grow less and less envious of those who have “more” than us—especially if they don’t love God. Why should we be envious of those who don’t even respect our Father? And if the people who don’t even respect God, let alone love God, could lead “successful” lives (at least on the outside), how much more of a fulfilling life would we lead if we continue to trust God? I’m willing to bet that whatever God has planned for each of us is going to be infinitely better than anything we could ever plan for ourselves—even if it means we won’t ever get a 3 million dollar bonus in our lifetimes. Money can’t buy salvation, anyway.
If there’s one thing you should take from this article, it’s this: God is not punishing you. He is challenging you to grow in maturity, patience, and faith because he cares about you. He sees you as his legitimate child. For this, I say: Praise and glory be to the One who holds our precious souls in the grasp of His hands—the One who provides for the sparrows will provide even more for His own children. You don’t need to worry about your next steps because he’s already paved the entire road for you. Praise be to God!