“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.” Luke 4:1-2

The wilderness is a lonely place to be. In fact, the Greek word for wilderness means lonesome. Sometimes we’re called to be in a spiritual wilderness, and in those times it’s good to remember that Jesus Himself was called to one, too. Not only was He called, He was led there by the Holy Spirit, knowing He would be tempted by the enemy. Why would the Father do that? He was already full of the Holy Spirit (and I’ll get back to that in a minute), so what else did He need?

He needed to identify with us.

Hebrews 4:15 tells us “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”

As the Father prepared Jesus for ministry through suffering, He also must prepare and discipline us if we’re going to do any good work for Him, and that can mean a wilderness experience. It may be 40 days like Jesus’s, and it may be 40 years like Moses’s. God appoints the time.

When we are in the wilderness, we can know we’re not alone. Our Lord has already been there and understands. He is not just some high and lofty God looking down with judgment. He knows what it is to be tempted by evil. He knows what it is to be hungry. He knows what it is to suffer. He sees us and He has compassion, and when we’re in the wilderness we can take comfort in knowing Jesus is right there.

I know all the various trials I’ve been through in my wilderness experiences have given me an understanding into the hearts of those who are suffering that I never would have had otherwise. It’s turned my sympathy into empathy, and I see the pain in their eyes and their hearts a little bit better. I know better how to pray for them.

Jesus is our example of enduring suffering and yet not sinning. He shows us what to do when we’re tempted by evil. But His example starts with being full of the Spirit.

Don’t be caught off guard when God decides it’s time to prepare you in the wilderness. Be full of the Holy Spirit right now and every day. Be prayed up and obeyed up. Forgive and ask for forgiveness. And keep your eyes fixed on the One who understands every step through the wilderness.