“My folks brought me from the hospital’s delivery room straight to the church nursery. If the church doors are open, I’m there... until COVID! Since then, I’ve been sheltering in place.” That’s the testimony of so many adults and senior adults, faithful members of our local church. These dark and difficult days might be called: the Wilderness.
A pink slip and a trip to the unemployment line: the Wilderness.
A dreadful diagnosis: the Wilderness.
Divorce and the corresponding devastation: the Wilderness.
The Bible has a lot to say about life in the Wilderness.
Moses, a run-away murderer, spent forty years in the Wilderness shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep. The Hebrews spent forty years wandering in the Sinai Peninsula, the Wilderness. Elijah, after contemplating suicide, spent forty days crossing the Wilderness. John the Baptist, the spittin’ image of Elijah in his camel-hide coat, was a man of the Wilderness. And of course, Jesus spent forty days in the Wilderness being tempted and tested. So, if you find yourself in the Wilderness, you’re in good company.
After healing the Syrophoenician’s daughter, Jesus and His disciples traveled back to Galilee and then to the deserted area east of the Jordan River, a Wilderness.
“Large crowds came to him, including the lame, the blind, the crippled, those unable to speak, and many others. They put them at his feet, and he healed them. So the crowd was amazed when they saw those unable to speak talking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, and the blind seeing, and they gave glory to the God of Israel.” Jesus told His disciples, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with me three days and have nothing to eat. I don’t want to send them away hungry, otherwise they might collapse on the way” (Matthew 15:30-32, CSB).
In that “desolate place,” Jesus took a few minnows and a couple of biscuits, “He gave thanks, broke them...” Jesus multiplied the meal and 4000 men and their families “ate and were satisfied” (Mark 8:4-8, CSB). He had compassion on them, and He met their needs.
The wilderness wanderers were helpless. They were hungry and there was no place to buy food. They couldn’t pick themselves up by their bootstraps. Nope. They needed Jesus.
Wilderness wanderers are helpless and hopeless. When the future looks bleak and depressing. Jesus is the answer. He is near, even in the wilderness.