The Lenten Desert: God Testing Our Hearts

Taken from To Keep and to Ponder
by Dr. Edward Sri

The Lenten Desert: God Testing Our Hearts

The Gospel reading for the First Sunday of Lent takes us into the desert—the place of testing. Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness recall Israel’s 40 years’ sojourn in the desert. What was the purpose of this long journey through the wilderness? Moses told the people that God brought them there so that “he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart” (Deut. 8:2).

The testing of Israel entailed more than seeing if the people would obey God’s commands. Their trials in the desert were intended to test their hearts.

And when we experience our own deserts –when we experiences trials in life or struggles in prayer—we should remember that God may be doing the same with us. He may be testing our own hearts: Are our hearts truly for God and God alone? Or are they committed to the Lord only for what He does for us. This was the kind of testing Israel faced.

In Egypt, the Israelites benefited from God’s spectacular signs and wonders. They saw God’s might hand inflict the Egyptians with plague after plague. In Egypt, they were liberated from slavery and they witnessed God’s triumph over their enemies. They sang God’s praises and rejoiced in the Lord their savior.

But when taken out in the desert, things became very different. The people were humbled, taken out of all that was familiar, traveling in the wilderness without food and drink, unsure where the Lord will lead them next, and wondering if they will ever get to the Promised Land. Shaken, the people began to doubt. They began to fear and complain. They even were tempted to go back to Egypt—at least that was familiar to them.

What would they do now? Would they truly allow the Lord to guide them? Would they entrust their lives completely to God?

Or would they strain to remain in control—afraid to let go, trusting in their own plans and timetables, failing to allow their lives to be led by God’s Word?

Continue reading at To Keep and To Ponder