Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey His commands. Deuteronomy 8:2 (NLT)
Our convictions are only strong if they hold up under pressure. It is the times of testing in life that prove our character and demonstrate who we really are. Moses said that God led Israel through the wilderness. It was on their spiritual map! They didn’t get there by mistake, even though they remained there much longer than God intended! His purpose in leading them into the wilderness was to humble them and test them to prove their character. God wanted them to see whether or not they would really obey His commands. That’s the real purpose in testing.
Like Israel, we too will experience times of testing. Knowing that will prepare us to be alert and ready for them when they come. Times of testing are never wasted times. God is helping us to see what our faith is really made of. Do we really believe what we say we believe? The truth is that the strength of what we believe is measured by how much we are willing to suffer for those beliefs. Like Israel, Jesus Himself was led into the wilderness by the Spirit!
It’s interesting to note the timing as well. Jesus was just beginning His public ministry. He had just been baptized by John in the Jordan River in obedience to His Father. Matthew records what an incredible experience it was with the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus like a dove and, then, a majestic voice from heaven was heard saying,
This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy! Matthew 3:16-17 (NLT)
Yet, before Jesus would begin His public ministry, Matthew tells us that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil for forty days and nights. Matthew 4:1-2a (NLT) God wasn’t punishing His Son nor delaying His ministry. He had a purpose in this time of testing. Through this time of testing, Jesus would demonstrate that He really was the Son of God, able to overcome the Evil One and his temptations. Obedience to God is often tested with opportunities to disobey. The Bible says that Jesus faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 (NLT)
How do we handle these times of testing? Since we have such a great High Priest like Jesus who faced all the same types of testing we do, the writer of Hebrews challenges us:
… Hold firmly to what we believe… and come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.
As we do, the Bible says,
… We will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14, 16 (NLT)