...I think of this not as punishment but as a kind of time-out.
And I think of it not in an external way, as with Zacharius, but internally, allowing oneself to disengage from the (all-too-familiar!) inner chatter, speculation, self-argument, calculation, etc. (Everyone has his or her own "signature style" of this chatter of unbelief.)
To leave room for surprise, for something new, that the wilderness may give glory.