“The university of the wilderness that I now attended had simple tests but they came often.”
--Louis L'Amour (The Ferguson Rifle)
"Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things you have. For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"
--Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
We have found ourselves in the midst of a situation that has not been seen since the end of World War I when the influenza struck. This virus has led many people into a type of wilderness. Some have died, some have faltered, and some have survived. No matter the case, it has affected all of us. Now there are arguments and fights over masking or not, over vaccines or not.
Life is often like that and the Lord will allow us to pass through the wilderness. He knows what we need upon entering, and He knows the purpose behind the wilderness. I like what Zeb Bradford Long wrote, "The challenge of the wilderness is to stand alone and to walk with God." If this time that we are living in has not brought you closer to God; if you have not found yourself walking with Him, then beware--you will fall, or He will allow you to face another type of wilderness.
Jesus faced the wilderness right after He was baptized by John. We know about the temptations of Jesus by the devil in the wilderness, but we do not normally think about another situation He faced. Mark told us in his Gospel that He was "tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts...." (Mark 1:13)
We are not told exactly what happened. Did they confront Him? Did He take control over them, as the episode with Daniel is the lion's den? Did He have a staff to ward them off? Nothing is said except that He was with the wild beasts and then another interesting phrase, "and the angels ministered to Him."
First, I do not know of any type of wilderness that does not have some kinds of wild beasts, except possibly Antarctica. The wilderness has its share of wild beasts. They are hungry, and most of the time looking for food. The weak, the timid, the hurt, and the faint of heart could easily become prey to them.
There was one time when I was heading out to the Indian Peaks Wilderness to do some fishing. I knew of some beaver ponds about a mile from the road and planned to stay the night. Crossing a stream and moving up a hill I looked back and there was a bear on my backtrail at the place where I crossed the stream. He looked at me and ran. It was then I decided that I would not stay the night. I just didn't have a comfortable feeling and my fly-rod was no match for a bear.
Have you ever felt stalked by the beasts? That is not uncommon. The evil beasts of the devil will stalk you and at your weak point, try to destroy you. You must be vigilant in your walk, stay alert, and even at night tune your spiritual senses to the wild.
You may unwittingly come upon a beast along the journey. You may startle it into action. This is the time when you must use your spiritual weapons to defend yourself. There is a time to fight the foe (and remember, there are a myriad types of foes). That is why the Word of God is so important for it is a light to use upon the trail, so that we do not stumble or are not surprised. It is also a sword to use to defend ourselves.
Possibly the beasts could mean just the things of life. Beasts in the wild are natural; they are part of the environment. Jesus faced the temptations of Satan, but also faced the beasts. There are times in our lives when Satan may attack us, but often we must face the fight of life itself. Things happen. Be active; the attack may be from the physical world as well as the spiritual.
One more thing is shown in the verses from Mark. After the temptations, after the beasts, the angels came and ministered. Wait a minute! This was Jesus, the Son of God. Shouldn't He be the one minstering? Why would angels need to minister to Him? Simple, He was on this earth as a man. We need to realize that when we face a serious attack in the wilderness, we can rest assured that we will be ministered unto. Peace, and whatever our souls may need will come. It may be an angel who comes, or a brother/sister in the Lord, or the Holy Spirit. After temptations, after confronting the beast (whatever kind they may be); we surely need a special rest, but in the meantime "fight the good fight of faith."