When I think about wilderness, I think about the fact that wilderness doesn’t have to be in nature. The idea of wilderness during lent to me is synonymous with burden. When Jesus was wandering the wilderness, his burden was temptation, desire, needs, life. His burden was to become the man he was destined to be; to fulfill a covenant for which he was born into by his creator.
When Moses was taking the exiled Jews through their wilderness, the burden on Moses was the safety of his people. Everyone looked to him for security, the future, navigation. The survival of his people and the success of the journey was completely upon his shoulders.
The burdens we face today are very different than a trip through the desert with little water, the beating sun, and aching feet. Our burdens may bring us blessings as we endure much for them. Parents may often feel that their children are burdens that they bear, but what a blessing those children are at the same time. Same goes for children, of all ages, who may feel their parents are a burden, and yet the mutual unconditional love felt is worth feeling the burden now and again.
Walking in this wilderness can be overwhelming, especially with the burdens of life all coming at us at once. Work, family, school, church, money, food… I’m sure I could go on and on. And I am reminded that our burdens are not necessarily meant for us to endure them alone. We think of Jesus being alone in the wilderness, but was he? God was there every step of the way, through all the temptations, guiding him and helping to hold up that burden he felt.
There are times where I catch myself complaining of my burdens. When money is tight I look back and realize how blessed I am to have a good paying job that provides a livable wage that provides for the necessities, even though the budget has no wiggle room. When I get upset with a family member, I remember how blessed I am that they are in my life. When I roll my eyes at having to take care of the dishes, the laundry, fix things on the house, I remember that I am so lucky to have a home, one that is warm, inviting, and dry.
But our burdens are our own, and just because it may seem like we should be grateful for the things we have, it is still OK to own your burdens and ask God for help. Nothing is too hard for God, and when we are being swallowed up by the wilderness, no matter how blessed we are, we can reach out to God to lighten the load.
May we take a moment to name and own our wilderness burdens during this time. What can we give up that will help us to find our way out of the wilderness we find ourselves in. Believe me, I know this is hard. It may involve saying the word “no” more often. It may involve giving yourself a little self care. I could even involve a simple prayer. Or.. maybe it’s all three. Whatever it is…let’s walk through that wilderness, one step at a time, one day at a time, and allow God to lead the way.