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  • Writer's pictureMarnie Hammar

How God's Voice Grows Louder in the Wilderness

By Jana MacCarrie Fraley

Hear Him Louder Essay Series: Jana’s Story

I sat horseback, looking out across the wide open prairie, watching as my family gathered cattle from each corner of the 1,000-acre pasture. My heart was heavy and hurting, as it had been for the past month. Moving these cattle, a job that once brought me peace and joy, now brought apprehension and deep sadness. 

It was a day my mother would have soaked in. A perfect Wyoming summer day, doing what she loved with the people she loved. But she no longer would ride across the ranch’s plains, working cattle with her family. No longer would we share our hearts and thoughts with one another. The missing of her had settled into such a deep ache in my heart I didn’t think I would ever recover from it. 

A month earlier, on a day similar to this one, my mom had been working cattle with my dad, brother, and some neighbors when a calf ran in front of her horse, causing it to rear over backward, landing on top of her and killing her instantly. Our lives were forever changed that day, the color of our days stripped away with the absence of my sweet mother, leaving everything grey and brown and without life. Anxiety in my gut replaced peace in my heart. Fear consumed me as I watched my in-laws and kids from a distance, worrying that something would run out in front of another horse and spook it. I lived in constant terror of losing another loved one. 

For days, the anxiety and fear held me in a tightly-fisted grip, controlling me and making me act out in unreasonable anger and impatience with my family. Uncertainty filled the days, weeks, and months that followed, bringing anxiety and deep sadness. I didn’t know who I was without my mom. I would often say to people, “I am my Mother’s daughter,” with a knowing smile as I said or did things that mirrored her. Now I was suddenly facing life as a motherless daughter. I felt like spun glass, as if the slightest touch, spoken word, or mournful glance would shatter me. I found myself pulling away from relationships with my husband and kids, my Dad and brothers, friends, and especially from God.

I had come to a wilderness place, that desert wasteland where it felt like God was far from me, and I was traversing it alone.

It was there in that wilderness place where I vividly felt Him bring truth to my heart.

Scripture from my quiet time earlier that morning came to mind: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed,” (Deuteronomy 31:8). I realized that being in the wilderness did not mean that He was punishing me or had forsaken me, but was actually drawing me closer to Him.

I don’t take for granted how blessed I am to live where I do. Living at the base of the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming gives me a daily picture of what the wilderness can look like. Within 20 minutes, I can be in the thick of the Big Horn National Forest. For years, our family ran cattle on a forest permit in these mountains, and one of my favorite things was riding horseback through the thick timber, looking for cows and calves. Besides the sound of my horse’s feet across the ground covering or an occasionally bawling calf, the silence can be so pure you can hear something from miles away.

God often brings us to places of wilderness wanderings so that we might hear Him better. 

I’ve experienced wilderness seasons where God has had to bring me to a place where everything distracting me and drowning out His voice had to be stripped away. I don’t always know it during those seasons, but when looking back, I can see where those hard and painful experiences were given to me for a purpose.

Throughout the Bible, God tells us of various wilderness experiences through which He brought His people: tough and troubling situations, days when peace was absent, seasons of pressure, and trial. I have found a constant truth woven through those wilderness stories, including my own. 

God walks through the wilderness with us. He goes before us and doesn’t leave or forsake us in the desert. He has a plan and a purpose for bringing us through the difficult circumstances in life. Deuteronomy 8:2 says: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” God brings us to those wilderness places to humble us, test us to see where our heart truly lies, and prepare us for opportunities of greater obedience. 

God had to bring me into that wilderness season after my mom’s death in order to guide me to a place where the silence was so pure that I could better hear what He was telling me. His Word reminded me that I could let go of the anger, fear, and anxiety that were plaguing me, and I could place my trust fully in Him, trust for my future and my family’s future as well.

Photo credit: Jana MacCarrie Fraley, on her ranch.


The Hear Him Louder Essay Series is a guest essay series where God's daughters share their stories of hearing God’s whispers in their every day. It’s meant to serve as an encouragement for the times when God feels far and seems quiet. May this series be an invitation for us to listen for His voice together.

Don't miss any posts in this series! Subscribe to receive each new essay in your inbox, posted every other Thursday. When you subscribe, you'll receive a FREE download of a Prayer Planning Worksheet, a resource to help you prepare your heart to listen for His voice in prayer.

New to this series? Check out the rest of the series!

Interested in contributing to the Hear Him Louder Essay Series? The call for submissions opens twice a year. To submit an essay outside of those windows, contact me.


About Jana

Jana MacCarrie Fraley is a Christian writer, speaker, ranch wife, and mom.

Her heart’s passion is discipling and encouraging women as they pursue an active and enduring faith in Jesus by seeking God’s truth through His Word, developing a biblical worldview, and finding contentment through their hope in Christ.

She has collaborated on one devotional book, Tapestry of Grace, and created and wrote The Truth Journal, A 30-Day Guided Journal to Combat the Lies of the Enemy With the Truth of God’s Word. Jana has also written for various other print and online publications, including The Kindred Mom, Living By Design, The Joyful Life Magazine, The Brave Woman Series, The Heartbreak to Strength Series, and Faith Storytellers. She writes with her family’s Wyoming ranch as the backdrop, where she and her husband, Mike, have made a life together raising cattle and their two children, Hannah and Kade.

You can find Jana at her website, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


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