After the 40th
Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell. Nehemiah 9:21 NASB
August 3, 2008 was my official first night in the Charleston area. I was staying in an extended stay when I first moved down here. I had not had an opportunity for find a place to live prior due to my health issues taking precedence… But nearly four years ago I made the decision to move to this place. At times I have felt like this was the worst decision I ever made in life, but no decision is ever without its downside. I have experienced some of my most trying life experiences since I've moved here, and I am sure they have served their purpose in God's plan of making me stronger through each trial.
I believe in Biblical Numerology. For example here, the number 40 (forty). Throughout the Bible, every major trial period occurred during a time spanning 40 days, weeks, months, years, etc. The Great Flood of which we all know about Noah's Ark was caused by rain lasting 40 days and 40 nights. (Genesis 7) The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before reaching the Promised Land. As the scripture above says, during that time of wandering, they did not have a single need that God did not supply. Even Jesus had his 40 experience–right before he began to preach, he was led into the wilderness for 40 days by the Spirit to be tempted by the enemy. (Mark 1:13, Luke 4:12, Matthew 4:1)
In life we will not be without our 'wilderness experiences'–we will all have those points of testing and temptation. It can be a purging and cleansing experience–in the 40 years, those that doubted God and were banned from entering the Promised Land died along the way. In the 40 day rain, the world was rid of the evil. It can be a strengthening experience–during that 40 years, Joshua and Caleb were men of valor and honor in God's sight. They both came up under the leadership and tutelage of Moses, becoming stronger and rooted in their faith so that when they entered the Promised Land, they could win the battles necessary to claim it on God's behalf. During each of these '40' experiences, those in them grew stronger in their faith–Noah had to trust God enough to even build the Ark, let alone inhabit it for the length of time it took for it to come to rest on dry ground. The Israelites, although very fickle with their faith, had to trust God each day for His provision of manna and quail (although they were still ungrateful). The experiences required total obedience–its clearly evident what happened with the Israelites when they chose to do things their own way–they lost battles, lives, food, and even God's favor at various points in their journey. At the end of each of these experiences, a change had taken place and a goal had been achieved. For Noah, the earth started out full of evil, at the end it was as if everything was new. For the Israelites, they finally, finally made it to the great place God had prepared for them. For Jesus, prior to his experience, he was already full of the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, he had banished the devil away from him, and was filled with power from the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14).
I have had several 40 experiences thus far, but this last nearly 40 months has been most critical for me. I have definitely experienced purging–purging of fake and phony friends/family members/relationships, purging of old attitudes and ways of thought, purging of unforgiveness and bitterness. I have gotten stronger–I know that I am sometimes sensitive, but even now the wounds people try to inflict through blaming, lying, and accusing no longer sting as much. I am still working on being more obedient; I know I have gotten stronger in my faith because throughout every situation I have experienced, I have only had God on which I could rely. He will place people along the way, but ultimately you are to rely on Him for everything. At the end of this, I realize how much of a different person I am. I am not the same person that moved here nearly 40 months ago (my 40th month is December 3, 2011…when I take my test!) In the midst of these situations I have not been happy. I have not been pleasant about them because I truly could not understand some of them were happening to me. But in it all, I know that God has changed me, and it is my prayer that the goal in all of this has been reached. I know God has still got more work to do on me, but I'm definitely far better than when I came here. So as I await my entry into my promised land, I'll keep trusting, believing, and obeying God.
These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
1 Peter 1:7
"No weapon formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that rises against you in judgment you shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of God and their righteousness is of me," says the Lord. Isaiah 54:17