And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.
Sometimes we aren’t aware of our progress until we turn around and see where we came from and how far we’ve actually come. Sometimes it can feel like we’re going nowhere or like we’re not really growing at all. But there are times in our lives where we can look back and take a measure of the journey so far, and then we see where God has brought us and how we got to where we are today. For Israel, there was a purpose to all that wandering. There were important lessons to be learned in the wilderness, and they are often the same kinds of lessons that we learn in our journey through life.
That journey was a humbling one, and walking dependent on God has a way of working the pride out of us. It shows us our rightful place, how helpless we really are, and the lack of any greatness or strength within us. It was also a proving ground. God wanted to see if, left to themselves, they really would obey Him. They made their own choices and had to live with the results of them. And those experiences showed what was in their hearts. It showed if their talk was just talk or if they meant what they said about following God and being obedient to Him.
But God also taught them to hunger, in a way, in order to appreciate what it was to be satisfied, to understand that what they must satisfy that hunger with is not bread, but something only God can give them—His Word. It’s not just the physical life that must be sustained, but the spiritual life, as well, and it must be God’s Word that sustains us. And that peace of mind that must have come with that daily supply of manna is the same assurance we can have that God’s Word and the God of the Word will always be enough for us.
What kinds of lessons has our walk with God taught us so far? Where has our journey brought us? Different challenges show how we’ll respond. New challenges reveal how we’ve grown. And all along the way we learn a lot about God and a lot about ourselves. So, have we learned to depend fully on Him? Have we gotten to a place where we understand how necessary His Word is for our lives? The most important lesson we learn along the way is the life-giving power of the Word of God to sustain us no matter where life may take us.