Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.
I am such a country girl. I was raised hunting & fishing and lived on a farm. I lived in rural Mississippi, really, really rural! We went to town once a month to get groceries --- and that means --- milk, butter, and eggs. We grew everything we ate --- all the vegetables, fruit, spices.
Because I was raised that way, my sister and I learned to love to play in the wilderness. We loved being in the forest behind our house and playing dolls or school or house. We put an old chair out there and dug around in the trash to get goodies for our "home". Hanging out in the wilderness, back then, proved to be great, all-day fun, and it left me with such wonderful memories.
But being in the wilderness isn’t always fun, is it? It can get dark. You can get lost. It can be lonely.
We can go through many tests as a Christian. Tests are actually not our enemies. They are our friends. They teach us. They show us who we are when we are squeezed.
One of those tests is the Wilderness test. The wilderness test comes when we feel spiritually dry, as if we’re in the desert. As if no one is around , no one understands, and no one cares.
Paul was pressed from every side. Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 6:4-5, then v. 8-10. Paul was exhausted and pressed and obstacles were everywhere.
Some of you in the room have been pressed from every side. Your pressing make look different from Paul’s pressing, but you have been pressed nonetheless.
The God who got you through that previous thing is going to get you through this one!
Sometimes, when we are in the middle of the wilderness, in the middle of testing, we can’t hear God. Ps. 42:1-2 puts it like this, “As the deer longs for the streams of water, so I long for you. O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?”
Here’s what you need to do about finding hope in the wilderness:
#1) Read Luke 4:1-13. What did Jesus do every time he was tested? He quoted Scripture. There is power in Scripture. You must be in the Word to know what power you have. Hosea 4:6 says my people perish for lack of knowledge. You likely don’t even walk in all the power you have been given. When you are in the middle of testing, in the wilderness, you can stand strong on what the word of God says – that is eternal hope. He will not leave you. He will not forsake you. He holds you up with his victorious right hand.
#2) You must learn to be a “driver” in the wilderness. There’s a big difference between being a driver and being a passenger. Passengers in a car can be completely disengaged. Passengers don’t have to be aware of where they are going. They don’t have to know the right turns to make. They don’t have to be safe and wise. Drivers streer the car. They must be keenfully aware of their surroundings. A Good river takes responsibility for the car and all those affected. Drivers don’t whine. They don’t place blame. They don’t ask why. They just drive.
The Israelites were rescued from slavery through the leadership of Moses. He led a national revolt, because God spoke to him to do so. He gathered the people and they literally ran for their lives as the Egyptians came chasing them. They had been beaten, abused, malnourished, and mistreated. And they get to the other side of the Red Sea --- God showed up and gave them a miracle. And they get to other side of the Red Sea and the real testing began. They waited for their deliverance to the Promised Land for 400 years. Testing comes.
Exodus 13:17-18 says that God did not lead the Israelies along the easiest route, even though it was the shortest way. He said that if it got too tough and they were faced with a battle, they might just change their minds and give up! They might just turn around and go home!
Think about that for a minute. Have you been asking God why? Why am I here? Why am I wandering? Could it be that you’re being led in a roundabout way, because God is teaching you? Don’t ask why – just drive!
#3) When you come out of the wilderness, out of the season of testing – there’s rest. There’s peace. There’s hope. So replenish during this time. Take the time to assess what you’ve learned during that time in the wilderness. Take the time to rest in Christ’s eternal peace. One of the fruits of the spirit is hope. Hope was given when you accepted Christ as your Savior.
Some of you have experienced a temporary set-back. It could’ve come in the form of abuse or divorce or death or a disappointment or loss of job or hardship. But for whatever reason, you’ve had a set-back.I want to remind you that God has given you every tool you need to survive the set-back. He is the God of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is the God of second chances. He is hope for those of you who find yourself hopeless today. He is strength for the weary, overworked, exhausted, and overwhelmed. HE is your all in all, your everything. My prayer is that you would truly embrace the hope that He offers today.
Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom of three, wife to Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is passionate about single mothers and hurting women finding freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.