When You’re Sick and Tired of Wilderness Living and Just Want Out

The Book says he was starving. Jesus, that is, after being taken to a wilderness place.
A difficult place.

I’ve been there too…empty…tired…depleted…hungry…

Eat, the Devil said. Chiding Jesus on; playing to his vulnerable place. But Jesus refused; and chose hunger over surrender.

All the while I’ll devour anything to fill the void; numb the pain. Shopping…Hot Tamales…Tiny House Hunters…computer puzzles…

His body weakened.

            So has mine.

Jump, the enemy taunted. But instead of jumping, Jesus yielded a Sword. The Word of God. And dodged another offer.

I so want to jump…throw in the towel…move to Idaho…or maybe Bora Bora, where there aren’t quite as many bugs…

Let me take care of you, the adversary suggests to Jesus. Trust me. Not God.

He suggests that to me too. All the time.

Except I often fail. Jesus didn’t.

“The Test was over. The Devil left.
And in his place, angels!
Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.”
 Matt. 4:11, MSG

Tired. Depleted. Hungry. Vulnerable. That’s what Jesus no doubt felt while he was being tempted in the wilderness for forty days and forty nights (Matt. 4:1-11).

That’s what we often feel like when we’re stuck in the wild times, trying to figure out what the heck is going on,

because an adversary is trying, oh, so hard to keep us down…because life can be just plain crappy…because we do really dumb things to ourselves and others…

Any way you slice it, wandering in the same uncomfortable situation for what seems like forever, battling the same demons, hungry for something more, uncomfortable and alone, just plain sucks. Jesus knows. He was there too.

Not only that, he knows that the temptations to alleviate the pain come in all shapes and sizes…

  • Eat. Feed your flesh. Eat the chocolate. Drink the drink. Take the pill. You’ll feel much better…
  • Jump. Give up. On life. On him. On her. On yourself. Bailing out is so much easier than balancing the tightrope of discipline, bravery, selflessness and hard work…
  • Rely on others. Or yourself. But, by no means, God. I mean, where the heck is he when you need him, anyway? You certainly can’t trust him…

Yes. The enticements to get ourselves out of the wastelands, at any cost, just to feel better, are endless.

But, look again…

“The Test was over. The Devil left.
And in his place, angels!
Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.”
Matt. 4:11

Relief was not given during the test. Like we think it should. And expect it to.

It was given after.

Only after the devil left, when Jesus had finished the trial, was he was attended to. Fed and comforted; cared for and strengthened.

And so, I wonder…

What if we chose to stay in the wilderness, where it’s confusing, uncomfortable, and seemingly pointless, and tolerate all those yucky feelings, instead of always trying to escape pain?

What if we chose hunger over surrender?

Truth instead of defeat?

God instead of self-reliance?

What if we dared to trust that our wilderness journeys just might be good for us? To shape us? Change us? Make us stronger?


After all, the muscle only grows after it has been broken down. Which can be very painful.

The seed turns into a flower after it has died and has been buried; concealed and forgotten. With new growth often taking a very long time.

Perhaps we’d actually find relief, peace, and feel better, if we’d lean into the wilderness situations we’re in, accept them, deal with them, (maybe even embrace them?), instead of always trying to circumvent or dilute them.

And trust that God, always being ridiculously good, full of love, mercy and grace, really does care for us.

And when the time is right, will show us the way out.

Today, weary from being in a wilderness place, I choose less-than-wonderful feelings. I choose hunger. Truth. Hope. Anticipation.

And I feel a bit better already. :)

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