Even as people of faith, we must confess that much of life and its circumstances appear shrouded in mystery. We really do, as Paul wrote, "see through a glass darkly." In good times, we make plans with a sense of hope and expectation. In hard times (which appears to be on our horizon), hope and expectation get replaced by anxiety and skepticism. These reactions may be natural but are they right?
In particular, how do we deal with the fear and discouragement that may accompany the economic downturn we are facing? These emotions are the result of both not knowing what the future holds and of imagining worst case scenarios. God told us (and Israel) why He takes us out into the "wilderness." First, He wants to humble us (Deut. 8:2). Humility is one of the essentials of a life with God. One of the repeated principles of Scripture is that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Humility is the key to experiencing grace. So in the face of these difficult times, admit your need and call upon Him for grace.
God also used the wilderness to reveal the heart condition of Israel and the condition of their character (Deut. 8:2b). Our greatest needs are not material, they are spiritual. God wants to strengthen our character and purge our lives of those distractions, attachments, and omissions that keep us from being all He wants us to be. God, therefore, will threaten or even weaken the material in order to strengthen the spiritual.
If you are in the wilderness or fear you maybe soon, remember that one of God's great promises is the promise of His presence. "I will never leave you nor forsake you," He said. Cling to Him and His promises, and allow the uncertainty and the difficulty to move you closer to Him. You may find that He is taking you "through" the wilderness to bring you in to the Land of Promise.