Final exams- Lessons from the wilderness, #1

In my last post, I listed 7 reasons for going through the wilderness.  Number 1 was “to test us”.

In college, the week of final exams was brutal.  The libraries all over campus overflowed with students pulling all-nighters- finishing final presentations, essays, and cramming for the exams.  One semester I remember devouring multiple bags of cheddar cheese Chex Mix while memorizing bone structures for Anatomy 209 and the blood vessels of several organ systems for my physiology course.

And one afternoon, before an especially difficult final, I was reading the Psalms and came across this verse:

In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

Psalm 94:19, NKJV

I knew that God had given me this verse as a gift that day…a reminder that He was with me.  Instantly, a deep calm settled on me, replacing the fear and anxiety with peace and comfort.  I held that verse in my heart as I walked across campus towards my final.

I meditated on this verse and on His love for me all the way to the building where my final exam was being conducted.  My Prince of Peace walked with me.

“In the multitude of my anxieties…your comforts delight my soul.”

I did well on that exam- and not just because I studied.  I felt His presence with me the whole time- almost like He was taking the final along with me!

There are days that I long for the simple stress of finals week at the University of Wisconsin- in many ways it was much easier than what I’m going through now.  It’s like finals week every day, with no summer vacation in sight!

I told my husband the other day I feel like I’ve been fording a raging river every day.  A constant battle.  A struggle.  High tide, high rapids, high pressure.  And every day, with the help of Jesus, I make it across,… only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

I’ve often found myself asking God lately…”How long, God? How much longer?  Have I passed this test yet?  I’m hanging on to You for dear life, but I’m getting so tired!  Battle weary!  Won’t You step in and airlift me out of this rushing river?”

And just today He reminded of my “finals verse”…

In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

Yes, Lord!  Your comforts DO delight my soul…even when comfort seems far away and I feel stranded out here in this wilderness.  Your comforts delight me.

I believe that by reminding me of this verse, He’s telling me that yes, I will pass this exam!  I just need to hang on a little while longer.  He is with me, never to forsake me.

And here is another promise that Jesus is placing in my heart at this moment:

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isaiah 43:2, NIV

If He’s calling me to ford a river every day, He’s also promised me that I won’t drown!  I might go down in the middle, but He will always reach down and set me back on my feet.  I am not alone.

And as Job said, “when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold” (Job 23:10, NIV).  He is testing you (and me) in the fire in order to burn out of us everything that is holding us back.  He’s burning the “ugly” out of us, so to speak.

The wilderness is a test.  What are you made of?  Will you cave under the pressure and the weariness of the every day struggles?  Will you run to the Author and the Finisher of your faith, or run away?

If we run away, we will never come forth as gold.  If we don’t go through our crucifixion, we will never experience the resurrection.  If we refuse to walk with God through our wilderness, we will never experience His faithfulness and His miraculous provision in the desert of our souls.

It is only in the wilderness that we see His miracles.

It is only after going through the wilderness that we will see our reward:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the victor’s crown, the life God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12, NIV

Bless our God, O peoples; let the sound of his praise be heard, who has kept our soul among the living and has not let our feet slip. For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.

Psalm 66:8-12, ESV

And it is only in the wilderness that God can reveal what is in your heart:

Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you… to teach you that man does not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3, NIV

Finally, it is only after walking through the wilderness that you can experience the joy of the glory of God in you:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 4:12-13, NIV

His glory will be revealed in you!  After the test, after the rivers, after the wilderness, you will experience the glory of God alive in you!  You can be overjoyed when His glory is revealed in you.

Is it worth it, being tested past what you think you can handle, even past your breaking point?

I would say so.

Dear Jesus, come to us today.  Come for us today, in the middle of this wilderness.  Reveal to us who You are.  Comfort us and reassure us.  Turn our dry, parched hearts into pools of Your Living Water.  Fill us up again!  Sustain us in this wasteland.  Be our Bread of Life.  We are weary.  We are battle-worn.  We are desperate for you!  Come for us in a big way…show us that You are here with us- that You have never left!  Be our Shield, our Glory, and the Lifter of our weary heads.  Walk us through this wilderness into Your glory!  Reveal Your glory in us, Lord Jesus! 

We believe in You.  We trust in You.  We cling to You.  Thank You, Jesus, for counting us worthy of being tested.  Thank You for trusting us with this wilderness journey.  Most of all, thank You for walking with us through our wasteland and never leaving us or forsaking us.  We love You, Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name,  Amen.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Michie Carter says:

    I’m so blessed to have read your post this morning. I’m going through the wilderness at this very moment, and your post answers many questions I have been asking the Lord. I have been asking Him to show me what He is doing in my life because of the things that are happening now, but as I read your post on Psalm 94:19… the Lord reassures me that He is with me. Thank you and God bless…. If you need a friend you can call me.. your post was right on time. God answers His people speedily…much love..

    Michie Carter.

    1. scotiathompson says:

      Michie,

      I’m so glad to hear that this post spoke to you. If you would like to read more on the subject, you can go back and read my post, “Are you in the wilderness?”.

      I’m so thankful God is faithful and He is trustworthy! We can lean on Him in our wastelands. We can trust Him! Know this: He’s got you in His hands, Michie. Never fear and never, never give up. Like Job, you will be tried in fire and come forth as gold as long as you surrender to this process. Choose to allow Him to make your beautiful through this dark time. Choose life, choose joy, and choose trust!

      Best,

      Scotia

  2. Wendy says:

    I found your post several days ago, and it touched my heart. Since July 2014, I have been going through a season–a wilderness–with God. Little by little, in His gentle way, the Lord has brought me through this season, marking each new milestone with a Scripture I’ve learned to carry and pray until He revealed the next milestone to me. I’ve learned to know my Father as I have never known Him before, a blessing I certainly never anticipated when this season began. He has healed my broken spirit, shown me His great love, and led me ever forward toward seeking and living His will instead of fumbling about in my own. I, too, often asked God, “How long? Are we there yet? How much longer?” I’ve also learned that pretty much any time I begin a sentence in prayer with “But, Lord, I . . . “, I am imposing my will on His perfect will, setting the conditions or limits on His will within which I’m willing to work. Thus, I’ve learned I need to stop whenever I catch myself uttering this phrase and surrender my will to His.

    This is going to be a lifelong practice for me as I’m so faulty and human and fleshly; however, I’ve found comfort in praying Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:38 (KJV): “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”

    God used your two posts on being in the wilderness to show me how far He’s brought me through my own wilderness during this season with Him and to reiterate that my current milestone is to “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Prov. 3:5, KJV). Trust is not something I do easily, having been hurt so much by others I’ve trusted in my past that I could not, when this season began, have imagined being asked to trust anyone, including God. He is, however, telling me to trust Him now, telling me, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19, KJV).

    Yes, Lord. I trust You. You are my God, and I am your child.

    Thank you for these two blogs and for your willingness to use your own experiences and feelings amid these experiences to reach out to others who are treking through the wasteland. Your openness, honesty, and faith touched my heart and comforted me. Thank you, again, and God bless you.

    1. scotiathompson says:

      Wendy,

      Thank you for sharing a couple of the verse that the Lord has given to you in your wilderness. What a beautiful testimony of learning to trust God when your default response is distrust due to the hurt in your past. Know that your testimony will help countless others learn to trust our Savior and Best Friend! Blessings to you on your journey towards trust, life, wholeness and healing!

      Love,

      Scotia

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