Yep, you read that right ... the Wilderness is necessary to our faith life. Whatever wilderness you find yourself in (even if it's just figuring out where the paper clips are), it's the time in the wilderness which reminds us we are not completely in control. If we didn't have wilderness experiences, we'd get into a "Master of the Universe" mentality (with apologies to Tom Wolfe for this shameless rip off from his novel Bonfire of the Vanities). Some of us have a "Master of the Universe" mentality anyway, but that's another subject (maybe I'll write about perfectionist control freaks next ... hmmm ... maybe not...).
The Wilderness reminds us who we are and Whose we are. The Wilderness tests our ability to trust God even when everything seems to be falling apart at the seams. The Wilderness tests our ability to manage our fears and lean into trusting God. That's scary stuff.
The Wilderness also teaches us to put our own problems into a grander perspective. I may be thinking I'm dealing with a whole lot of confusing and disturbing stuff, but compared to the Sudanese refugee, or the AIDS orphan in Uganda, or the democracy protesters being gunned down in Myanmar, I am so blessed and fortunate.
The Israelites in the Wilderness were fearful second guessers who didn't want to trust God. Heck, they didn't even want to trust Moses ... and they could SEE him! But time in the Wilderness was where God met them in the tent (no matter where you go, there God is!). They had to work through their collective fear and anxiety and trust God ... and each other.