Tag Archives: true peace

The Voice Behind You

Adversity and affliction are good things. Yes, I’m serious. We all face adversity and affliction at certain points in our lives. While usually manageable, sometimes it seems they are about to overtake us and we become discouraged, frustrated, or angry. If you are in that situation, I offer here a different perspective for consideration.

O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help. As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” ~ Isaiah 30:19-21

Have you ever considered the notion that adversity and affliction could be our teachers? Have you ever considered them as bread and water? When we are walking with God, adversity and affliction are all of these things.

Adversity and Affliction as Our Teachers

We all experience difficult times in life; times during which adversity and affliction seem to rule the day. As they are happening, life can be difficult. It can be painful. We may feel as if we are in a deep, dark cave with no escape in sight. All we want is to be out of the cave and back in the light. Once we are delivered from the cave we take a deep breath and move on. As I consider those times I realize in hindsight that they have molded and shaped me into the man I am today. I learned lessons from having gone through those difficulties. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, adversity and affliction were teaching me some very important life lessons.

God teaches us here that adversity and affliction are, in fact, teachers. He uses these difficult times for our ultimate good! Knowing that, and walking through life trusting the Lord, I now handle adversity and affliction completely differently than I did in the past. Instead of anger, I am eager. Instead of downcast, I am positive. Instead of experiencing stress, I experience peace. I trust God: I know I am being taught. I know the difficulties will end. And I know that, upon escaping the cave, I will look back and appreciate the lessons I have learned.

Adversity and Affliction as Bread and Water

This blew me away the first time I read this. Why does God refer to “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction?” Bread and water are the basic nutrients of life. Prisoners being punished used to be put on bread and water diets – no pleasure food, just the basic nutrients needed to keep them alive as they served their punishment. As Israel traveled through the desert after their release from Egypt, God provided manna and water to nourish them on their journey. Bread and water are important to nourishing and preserving life. Could it be that adversity and affliction are somehow important, too?

Just as I can look back on times of adversity and affliction in my life and realize I have learned lessons from having experienced them, I also realize in hindsight that I am a better person for having experienced these things. I have gained confidence. I have gained wisdom. I have gained compassion. My faith in God has been strengthened. I am a better man, and even more important, I am a better Christian. Indeed, I have been greatly nourished through the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, and I thank God for that nourishment.

The Voice Behind You

God’s promise given to us through the prophet Isaiah (30:21) in this passage is one of my favorites in Scripture:

“Whether you look to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘this is the way, walk in it.’”

Read it again. And again. Do you hear the compassion? Do you hear the caring? Do you hear the Love? You see, when we walk with God we are never alone. He is always there, teaching us, nourishing us, guiding us, and loving us. Adversity and affliction will come. It’s OK. God has proven time and time again that He will use them for our ultimate good. God cares about your life and He cares about mine. He cares about what is happening to you and to me right this very moment. His path is perfect, and when we tune in to Him, He will show us the way out of that cave. At all times, but especially during times of adversity and affliction, we must listen for His voice. We must be in His Word. We must be in prayer. And we must listen.

Prayer for Today

Heavenly Father, thank you for your unfailing mercy, grace and love. Thank you for the lessons you have taught me thus far in my life, and thank you for being that voice behind me, showing me the way. Help me, Lord, to be in your Word and to walk with You through all my remaining days. Through Jesus I pray, AMEN.

My Life’s Foundation

This is what the Lord says: “He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and the stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar – The Lord Almighty is His name: Only if these decrees vanish from My sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before Me.” ~ Jeremiah 31:35-36

As I observe the disfunction in Washington and the growing division within our nation, my concern for our country’s future continues to mount. My study of Jeremiah has offered reassurance, as I am reminded of God’s sovereignty; no matter what our government does or doesn’t do, God is ultimately in control.

As the prophet Jeremiah records these words of God, much of Israel is in exile as punishment for their unfaithfulness to God. God hates sin, but His love for His people never wavers. At this writing, Israel’s time for restoration is approaching and the exiles will soon return home. Israel’s sweet reconciliation with God is soon to be at hand.

It reminds me of the ultimate reconciliation. Sin effectively separates us from God and there is nothing we humans can to to change that. Separation from God yields a life filled with questions. “Why am I here? What’s the point? I’ve built wealth and accumulated things; why am I still not content? What is my destiny for eternity?” A life built on the things of this world is, indeed, an empty life. God is eternal and He created us to be eternal along with Him. Because God loves us so much, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the ultimate price for our sins. Through His redemptive sacrifice, we are reconciled to God. Through faith in Jesus, we know that we will live eternally with Him. Once we know that reality, the answers to the remaining questions become crystal clear as we see our lives the way God intended us to see them as our journey in this world becomes aligned with the will of our Creator.

We are free to follow our own wisdom if we choose. We can seek appeasement and self-worth; we can build wealth and accumulate things. We may even find some temporary relief in those things. God will allow that, but as we consider our eternal destiny – eternity in God’s presence versus eternity completely separated from Him – the ultimate choice must be made: Do we continue to seek after worldly things, or do we give ourselves and our lives to the One who made all things? Worldly things will fade, and if we cling to them we will someday find ourselves desperately trying to cling to nothing. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” (Mark 13:33). That is the foundation on which I choose to build my life!

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