What is a Wilderness Season?

I have heard some believers describe times in their lives as a “wilderness season.” Words that are used to describe this include loneliness, spiritual dryness, lack of hearing from God, lack of spiritual energy, lack of faith, and basically whatever else you want to throw into the bag. It could also include giving into temptation and indulging the flesh.

“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” (Mt. 4:1)

Jesus most certainly had a wilderness season of 40 days at the end of which He defeated three temptations of the devil. However, I see no comparison between this and what modern believers are referring to. Jesus spent 40 days with the Father, being nourished by the words of God. “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Mt. 4:4) “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone;” (Jn. 8:29) Jesus didn’t give into temptation. He defeated it because He had been with the Father. His wilderness season was a divine demonstration of the power of a sinless life over the lusts of the flesh and the temptations of the enemy.

When I hear believers today talk about going through a wilderness season, I see it as excuse theology to cover their desire to indulge their emotions and feelings. Paul said that through much tribulation we enter the Kingdom (Acts 14:22), and the author of Hebrews said that by faith and patience we inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12). We live in a fallen world, so the opportunities to give up are always there. If we want to call something a wilderness season (something the New Testament doesn’t describe for believers), then we must be honest and recognize that it is of our own choosing.

Our roots should always be going deep into the Lord. There should always be fruit in our lives. The tests of life are all around us and will always be with us. It is not a wilderness season. It is life.

As I look back on my life in the Lord (47 years), I can find seasons of dumb and dumber, but never a wilderness season from God. I created my own messes. As I kept pressing in, I kept getting wisdom and knowledge. I have learned to lean not to my own understanding. God is always with me, and His Word is always alive. It never becomes dormant. We should always be learning and growing.

“nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6)

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that God has put you in a wilderness season, and somehow that means you are on your own. That kind of wrong thinking can lead you astray. He will never leave you or forsake you. Stir yourself up and return to your first love!

Barry Bennett