We sometimes think, “If only God would change the situation I’m in, then I could really live for Him.” But changing our circumstances wouldn’t remove all temptation because our own sinful desires would go with us. Adam and Eve enjoyed the perfection of the Garden of Eden, including God’s daily presence and provision. Yet they sinned while living in the perfect setting. That’s why the fact that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness is so important.
God knew that we would live in a world filled with spiritual darkness. Our culture’s hostility to God and His Word can leave us feeling alone. At times it’s tempting to just give in. But remember, Jesus overcame temptation in a place of barrenness and isolation. And because He was victorious in the darkness of the desert, He helps us to overcome in our own dark times.
Jesus didn’t enter the wilderness looking for temptation. When the Spirit led Him there, the devil came looking for Him. Just because God leads us into hard places doesn’t mean we’re being led into defeat. It may be the very path to our deliverance. What if your present difficulty is preparation for something greater? God often used the wilderness to teach His servants to depend on Him alone.
It was in the wilderness that God prepared Moses to lead His people. It was, again, the wilderness that prepared the Israelites to live in Canaan. And it was in the wilderness that God’s Son prepared in private for what He would have to face in public. We experience some of our fiercest struggles in the “wilderness” of difficult circumstances and times of spiritual emptiness. We can’t achieve great things for God until we learn to win spiritual battles in these wilderness moments.
Like Adam and Eve, our biggest issue isn’t our environment; it’s our initial response when we’re tempted to think and act independently of God. No amount of difficulty limits His ability to meet all of our needs, including helping us to resist temptation. He overcame in the wilderness so we could overcome in the world. In other words, rather than changing our circumstances, God might be using them to change us.