The wilderness can be a terrible place, and when we are there for a prolonged period, we can become very frustrated. We can turn our backs on God and look for ungodly situations to ease the pain we feel. However, we can take comfort from the fact that Jesus had to go through a wilderness experience before he commenced his ministry, yet again showing that these experiences prepare us for more significant leadership roles. We can also learn many things from the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness.
Scripture says that "Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" (Matthew 4:1), suggesting the role that God plays in our times of isolation and possible desolation. And then the devil tempted Jesus with three things, which are the same temptations we face today.
First is the temptation of self-sufficiency. "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread," he told a hungry Jesus. However, even with legitimate needs like food, Jesus trusted in divine providence.
Second is the temptation to sensationalism. Taking Jesus to the highest point of the temple, he told Jesus to throw himself down. "For it is written," he said, 'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus didn't bite; he had no interest in becoming a celebrity.
Third is the temptation to supremacy or power. "I will give you the kingdoms of the world," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus wasn't going to take any shortcuts to get to where he needed to be. He would get there in the manner his Father wanted him to get there, and if it cost him every drop of his blood (which it did), that's what he would do.
We can all learn something from this, especially those God calls to leadership. As John C Maxwell says, "Quality leaders can almost always point to a wilderness experience as part of their leadership preparation. During this time, our motives get purified, our backbone solidifies, and our calling gets clarified."
There is no guarantee that the wilderness won't beat us because, as already stated, it can be brutal. It can strip us of everything, leaving us without honor or dignity. But if we can beat the wilderness—and with God's help, we surely can—we will get to where God wants us to get. Just as Jesus did.
May the Spirit be with you.