Finding God in the Wilderness

We may go through a wilderness that makes us doubt, but if our foundation is Jesus, our questions will always lead us back to the truth.

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The open package sat on our kitchen windowsill, and I couldn’t resist looking through it. Yes, it was addressed to my husband. But I knew what was in it- camping equipment for our upcoming trip. After a disastrous camping season last year that included a biking accident and a COVID cancellation, I was ready. Sandy beaches and sunrises over the ocean called my name, and I could almost hear the waves crashing against the shoreline.

But as my husband went through the items and tested them, he realized one of them was not consistent with its description. Although the shopping site said the backup camera reached a visibility of thirty feet, it came nowhere close, making it unusable for our camper. Disappointed, he put the camera back in the box.

It’s not uncommon to encounter false descriptions in advertising, but have you ever gone through a life chapter where you’ve questioned descriptions of God’s character?

If you grew up in the church like me, you probably heard descriptions of him your entire life. Trustworthy, faithful, loving, everlasting. But once you left the safety of the nest, your own reality forced you to determine whether or not these characteristics were true.

For most of my life, I was afraid to ask these questions. I thought they were off-limits. But then I realized even David, who was called a man after God’s own heart, asked hard questions of his Savior:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,  and by night, but I find no rest.”
Psalm 22:1-2 NIV

God didn’t turn away from David for revealing his heart to him. Instead, he used David’s honest admission to transform it.

For the past several months, my family has walked through weeks of joy paired with overwhelming circumstances. Stresses at my husband’s work have carried over into our home life and although our family is still intact, I’ve watched as the enemy has worked to destroy the families of loved ones both near and far. I’ve lost sleep and cried out to God, “Please, intervene. Please, help.”

And then, I turn on the news and watch the devastation happening overseas. Our life here looks like bliss in comparison.

Sometimes in moments of quiet and worship, God’s presence comes and fills me with a sense of peace I can’t explain. Other times, I long for the rest of his Spirit.

Like the package that sat on our windowsill, God is teaching me to pay attention to descriptions. But unlike the faulty camera, the descriptions of his character don’t lie. We may go through a wilderness that makes us doubt, but if our foundation is Jesus, our questions will always lead us back to the truth.

This week, my morning reading took me through the temptation of Jesus. Although I’d read this passage many times before, one particular facet stood out to me this time:

The Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness.

It wasn’t Satan who led him there. It was God. In the previous passage, we see the Spirit of God rest on Jesus at his baptism and the Father declares he is pleased. Then comes the wilderness, which stands in stark comparison to the skies of heaven opening up in praise.

I don’t know about you, but my time in the wilderness doesn’t usually lead me to conclude that God is pleased with me. As a matter of fact, my conclusion is often the exact opposite.

What did I do, God? Why am I here?

But friends, if I’m going to view abundance and blessings through the filter of God’s love, I must do the same with the wilderness. Trials do not equal the absence of God’s presence. As a matter of fact, they will magnify it.


Here are a few ways God has shown me to shift my perspective:

  1. Instead of expecting trouble-free sailing, I expect God to be with me no matter what.
  2. When I catch myself assuming there is only one solution, I recognize I serve a God of limitless solutions.
  3. Instead of thinking God has abandoned me, I remember God is refining me.

God may lead us into the wilderness, but he will never leave us there or expect us to walk through it alone. As we see with Jesus’ temptation, the angels never left. They were there all along, and they immediately attend to him after he resists the devil.

Friend, the enemy wants to draw your attention inward. To yourself- your shortcomings, your abilities or inabilities, your desires that you think are being overlooked. He wants you to question the description of God you’ve tasted and seen.

Resist him. Turn your focus toward the One who does not change like the shifting shadows. His Word does not lie, and his character will stand firm against any test.



This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Abby McDonald.

Featured Image by Harmony Lawrence from Pixabay


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About the Author

Abby McDonald is a writer and speaker whose passion is to help women find the hope of Christ in the middle of life’s messes. She is the author of Shift: Changing Our Focus to See the Presence of God, and her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, (in)Courage, Crosswalk, and more. Abby lives with her husband and three children western Maryland. You can connect with her at