I did not know I was hungry ∙
He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. – Deuteronomy 8:16
2 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.
3 Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
The story is about a cocoon, a butterfly, and a young boy. One day, a small opening appeared in a cocoon, through which a butterfly would soon appear. A boy stopped and watched how the butterfly struggled to get out of the cocoon. The butterfly was exerting much effort, but the gap was not widening. The boy thought that perhaps the butterfly was not strong enough to break through.
The boy made a fateful decision to “help” the butterfly. The boy used a small knife and cut a larger opening in the cocoon. The butterfly was able to emerge without much additional effort. But it appeared scrawny and feeble. It could barely move its crinkled wings.
The boy watched, hoping the butterfly would spread its wings and fly. But that never happened. The butterfly would live out its existence frail and grounded.
For the rest of its now drastically shortened life, the butterfly would have to drag its weak body and useless, crinkled wings. It was unable to fly. The boy did not realize that the effort required to spread the narrow gap of the cocoon was necessary for the butterfly. The energy expended would pump life-giving fluid from the body to the butterfly’s wings, enabling them to expand and allow the butterfly to fly. Butterflies and cocoons were designed so that it takes much effort for butterflies to emerge from their cocoons. This makes them strong and vibrant. It is part of the Father’s design for them.
If we were allowed to live without encountering and overcoming difficulties, we would not grow and develop, become stronger, and reach our full potential. The Father puts challenges into our lives to strengthen us, not destroy us.
Life is filled with challenges. Sometimes the Father leads us into extended periods of time that are barren, difficult, and seemingly without end or purpose. But the Father never does anything without a plan, well thought out, and with specific goals in mind.
When we experience such times in the wilderness, the best question is not “why?” but rather, “Father, what do You want me to learn from this?”
These tests focus our trust in the Father and His ability, faithfulness, and willingness to provide for us. It provides answers to questions that often go unspoken. Will He meet our needs? Is He as good as we think He is?
We are spiritual beings and we cannot exist on material nourishment alone. We are spiritually hungry, but we do not know it. We become aware of our spiritual hunger through the trials we face.
Deuteronomy 8:3 He humbled you and let you be hungry . . . that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
But perhaps of no lesser importance, we discover ourselves. We learn what is truly in our hearts. What kind of stuff are we really made of? Are we willing to discover the Father’s purpose and goals, cast aside our selfishness and fears, and obey Him at all costs?
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” This phrase has become a popular expression in American culture. It owes its origin to American football. The phrase was coined in 1953 in a speech made by John Thomas, the coach of the Green Hornets football team.
What is not important is how we begin our wilderness journey; what is essential is how we finish it.
REFLECT & PRAY
Who am I really? What am I willing to commit to endure for my King, my Father? Our walk with Him is ultimately not about us and our human frailty but rather about Him and His marvelous strength.
Father as I look back over my life, I see how many times You have been there for me. I thought I was totally alone, but You were there. When I was weak, You became my strength. You coached me and taught me how to live. You showed me that inner strength and sustenance come through the Word of God! Encourage me to finish the journey I began.
The Father uses the wilderness to test our character. The wilderness reveals our hearts. Our true character is demonstrated through obedience or the lack thereof.
The wilderness experience was not the end of the journey. It was only the beginning of the journey. Its rigors are developmental. They prepare people to engage in the real battle that lies ahead. Success in the land of promise depends on prior success in the wilderness.
Lush, abundant, natural provision was on the horizon. The Father’s supernatural provision in the barren desert is preparation for what is to come.
How do you teach someone to handle wealth and abundance? The Father’s method is through scarcity and learning to trust Him and Him alone.
5 Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the LORD your God disciplines you for your own good.
7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills.
9 It is a land where food is plentiful, and nothing is lacking.
10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.
11 But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the LORD your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today.
14 Do not become proud at that time and forget the LORD your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt.
17 He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’
“Challenges are what makes life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” (Joshua J. Marine).
© Dr. H 2022