"You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him." (Deuteronomy 8:2-6)For forty years, the children of Israel lived and wandered in the wilderness, yet these were not wasted years but rather years full of the purpose and promise of God. Their time in the wilderness was not merely a time of punishment for their lack of faith, but is was a time when God was preparing them for the promised land. It was a time of both trials and blessings. Certainly it was a time when God tested them and humbled them and even exposed them to hunger and thirst, but it was also a time when God supernaturally provided for them; their clothes did not wear out and He provided food and drink for them even in the middle of the desert. In the end, there were two key revelations that God was trying to teach His people.
Who am I: God humbled them "to know what was in your heart" and to know weather or not they had a heart to obey God. Is wasn't that God didn't know what was in their heart, but He wanted His people to know what was in their heart. Our wilderness experiences with God are meant to show us who we really are; who we are in the depths of our heart. When times are easy, it is easy to have faith and to follow God, but when hard times come, we are tested and we learn the true quality of both our faith and our obedience to God. Difficult times show us places in our lives where we must grow and where we must learn to trust and lean on God. Wilderness times help us avoid self deception and helps us to remain humble and to acknowledge our need and dependency on God.
Who is God: God desired that His people come to understand that their trials and blessings proceeded from the hand of a loving God. God was not treating them as a mere master or lord, but as a father. If God did not care for us He would either simply leave us alone of summarily destroy us, and in both He would be justified. But God was demonstrating Himself to His people as one who loved them; as a father loves his children. God's discipline and testing in our lives is evident that we are His children and that we are loved by Him. "But if you are without discipline , of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons." (Hebrews 12:8) Whether times of trial or times of blessing, we must learn to received them both as coming from the hand of our loving heavenly Father.