you know that spiritual passion, sight, and affections ebb and flow. At times our sense of spiritual realities can be strong and vibrant; other times, our hearts feel like lead weights and we find ourselves longing for God to visit us once again and bring refreshment (Psalm 85:4-7). These seasons are usually referred to as times of “spiritual drought” or “spiritual dryness,” and find intimate expression in many of the Psalms. David often cried out to God in times where his soul seemed like dust, and he yearned to be refreshed by the presence of the Lord (Psalm 13; Psalm 63). Other Psalmists expressed their longing to have their parched souls to be replenished by the Lord (Psalm 42). Those who have tasted of the goodness of Christ know what it means to be without that taste; it leaves us pleading, “light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3)
Why do they happen? Estep examples. Sin or bad decisions. David had several Psalms written while he was in a figurative pit. Solomon as well.
Unchecked lust “Abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (I Peter 2:11). Impure thoughts and freshly cultivated fantasies will only dull our sense of spiritual things; that is what Peter means when he tells us that lust “wages war against the soul.” remedy called for here is sincere confession and repentance (Proverbs 28:13; I John 1:9)
Jesus, in confronting the Pharisees’ desire for self-exaltation, provides a valuable insight as to how pride relates to faith. The Pharisees were unable to see the truth and beauty of Christ because they were infatuated with their own glory and loved receiving praise from men. Jesus asks them, “How can you believe when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God” (John 5:44)? Saving faith was hindered by their pride. For us, Strava and Twitter likes/followers may be examples.
turning from ourselves and our reputations to exalt Christ at all costs will bring about spiritual renewal since, “[God] gives grace to the humble.”
Love of money Isaiah 58:10-11 is encouraging in this regard,where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart will be also.”
If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
LACK OF BIBLE READING, MEDITATION, AND PRAYER
When we neglect Bible reading, meditation, and prayer, we are cutting ourselves off from essential nourishment for our souls. It is impossible to thrive spiritually without feeding our minds and hearts with God’s Word. Psalm 1 reminds us of the benefits of meditation,
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, or stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the sear of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, in al that he does, he prospers (vv. 1-3)
It is also beneficial to memorize Scripture so that we can receive refreshment from Biblical truth any time during the day
Getting outside in Gods glorious creation, and exercising His temple.
NEGLECT OF RESPONSIBILITIES
When we choose laziness over diligence, this can often lead to spiritual dryness, even depression. And this process usually perpetuates itself: laziness will create spiritual dryness; when we are spiritually dry and depressed, we are usually not powerfully motivated to pursue diligence. But it is precisely at this point that we need to break the cycle. We were made to work—when we subvert this fundamental aspect of our personhood, we will find ourselves spiritually dry and frustrated.
Forgetting the Gospel and living in legalism
The Galatians experienced the freedom and joy of the Holy Spirit, not by keeping commandments in order to gain salvation, but by hearing and believing a message—the gospel message. We are all in danger of drifting like these Galatians; after having received the Holy Spirit by faith, we attempt to perfect ourselves by the flesh and in our own strength; trying to earn some favor with God. This is why I believe Jerry Bridges is right when he reminds us to “Preach the gospel to ourselves everyday.”
spiritual dryness will come again. That is why the Psalmist says that the Word of God restores his soul (Psalm 19:7); that it was in need of restoring implies that his soul was no longer in a happy, satisfied state—it was in need of refreshment
We will someday enjoy the actual presence of Christ and find at his right hand pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11)—increasing joy and satisfaction for all for eternity. What keeps us moving through the desert is knowing for certain that an oasis lies over the next hill. Let’s keep moving.
What about God’s reasons for us to experience, not directly due to sin?
He is preparing us. Its Gods bootcamp. Exodus 13:17, the Hebrews were not yet ready as slave laborers to face the Philistines.
Protecting us. Testing us- the hebrews initially failed the test, by murmuring within days of leaving Egypt.
When we are undergoing a wilderness experience, the devil will come alongside us — his primary purpose is to tempt us to doubt God and to serve him (and ourselves). As he did with Jesus in His wilderness experience, Satan will show us all kinds of things that will appear to be good, attractive and wonderful. Satan’s supreme goal is to get us to disobey God, to destroy our fellowship with God, and to steal our destiny & blessings.
How did Jesus defeat the enemy? First, He fully submitted to God and His will for His life… and second, He fully trusted the Word of God. The only weapon Jesus used was the Word (Mt 4: 1-11)
Your wilderness experience is that place where God hides you from public view and prepares you for “His purposes.”
What will happen to us?
The first miracle we experience is the realization that “God loves us unconditionally,” and that He is going to deliver us out of our bondage and fear. God uses our wilderness experiences to refine us into the person He predestined us to be (Rom 8:29; Eph 1:5,11; Phil 3:21)
The second miracle we experience is “God’s gracious provision of manna;” the more “manna of the Word” we eat the hungrier we become
Another lesson do we learn in the wilderness, is that we learn to give up our illusion of a God that will make life easy for us… a God that will do what we want Him to do… a God of our own liking and making.
Elijah discovers that God is not in the fire or the earthquake or the rushing wind, but in the “silence.” God is not just in the major events of life that are often considered significant, but also in the small and quiet moments — that is when grace most frequently comes to us. That means, in the desert it is important to create moments when we are still before God (Ps 46:10), even if we have no expectation of God’s presence, and cannot or do not even want to pray.
Overcoming the wilderness
Can God really still use me? Yes. Romans 4:20-21. Doubt, but don’t lose faith.
What is He teaching e? To depend on Him . Even in the wilderness, God is still there, still supplying your needs, still transforming you more into His image. Ps 23, Deut 8:1. He may not always seem there, or listening, but He is with a greater plan. Paul had a thorn in his side, but was never removed. His grace is sufficient.
If things are dry, the promises of God are about to be fulfilled.
The believers faith can be fostered if he will engage in spiritual reading and theological study — this will help him reconstruct his beliefs and learn new forms of spiritual practice, like meditation, contemplative prayer, the employment of music in personal worship, journaling, engaging with God through physical activity, and discovering a new kind of practical service or ministry that impacts the world around him.
It is lonely, cold and hard in the desert, yet it was there that Moses was prepared by God, and it is there that we too can learn to “love not the world” but “rely only on God.” By the way, there are “no religious crutches” for us to lean on in the desert; “no religious activities” in which to hide our true condition. The truth is, we do not need religion; we need to “know Christ intimately” — and intimacy only happens when we are completely alone with Him in the wilderness, where there is nobody else to turn to except Him. (Not to exclude brotherly 3rd F, but it isn’t the priority)
The only way to get out of your wilderness experience is to “ignore the symptoms” (get your eyes off of the “waves”) and believe the Lord and pray and worship Him for who He is — the key is to focus on the truths of Scripture. Wilderness experiences are all about “persevering” with God. Don’t give up! Trust God! Hang in there! He is faithful!
wilderness experiences are God’s way of disciplining and pruning those He loves (and we all desperately need it), building faith, breaking down our reliance on our feelings and our emotions, and crucifying the self or flesh. The wilderness experiences we go through are worthwhile experiences, and we are to embrace and accept them for what they are, and persevere through to the end. Ultimately, we need to react to wilderness experiences as mature Christians… and resolve to not wilt under the hot desert sun of spiritual aridity, but rather trust God knowing that the dryness is temporary and that He has a reason for it.
4 final observations
God always takes care of His people in the wilderness. when the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, God provided them with water from a rock and bread from heaven. The bread was called “manna” — it was a picture of Jesus Christ, our spiritual food (Jn 6:31-35; 6:49-51; 1 Cor 10:1-4). The manna is designed to get you and me through the wilderness experience, but we cannot live off of it beyond that point. By contrast, in Canaan, the fullness and the superabundance of the land are fully available to us… the produce of the rich and good land becomes ours to enjoy; and that produce is inexhaustible.
- If you remain in the wilderness, you will eventually die. Simply leaving the counterfeit habitats of Egypt is not enough; if you don’t exit the wilderness, you will die in the desert. Viola reminds us that God always brings His people out of bondage so that He might bring them in to the land of plenty. You can chisel that in stone. “He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers” (Deut 6:23).
- The wilderness has but one goal: to sift us, reduce us, and strip us down to Christ alone.
The Wilderness is a symbol of “new beginnings.” If you are living in the wilderness today, rejoice in that fact, because God is doing a transforming work in your life — He is making you more like Jesus, that you might be a choice servant of His by being His hands and feet and eyes and ears and mouth in this world (Eph 2:10).