Last week I was meeting with some guys and we were lamenting over the items we struggle with. Disappointments, anger, even bewilderment in how the church doesn’t meet our needs like it should. A myriad of different areas of life we are personally struggling with.
I went home and was reading in Isaiah 30 and versus 19-22 were of great encouragement. This is to believers who are drifting, and some who have drifted away, people trying to hold on.
It assures us that God will hear and act swiftly (vs 19). Then the verse that stuck out to me was verse 20 where Isaiah says: “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.” Now bread and water given to us by God are typically gifts of nourishment, supply, sustenance and comfort, indeed Jesus himself is the “bread of life” (Jn 6:35). Here these items are referred to as “adversity” and “affliction”.
Here the benefit is so our own eyes will see the teachers, we will learn the lessons of who God is for ourselves. Then it says: “whether we turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” It acknowledges that though we will stray off the path, turn left and right, we will somehow hear the voice of God and we will keep heading in the right direction. It acknowledges that we play a role in this with God, we will hear his voice and choose to correct our path and align our lives with him.
It’s encouraging that he assures us we will eventually get rid of all the idols that distract us (vs 22). Though they are shiny and attractive “overlaid with silver” and “covered with gold” we will be able to “throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!’.” We will be able to overcome these temptations.
It is comforting to know that God is there speaking to us, even in our waywardness. That he is there working with us to bring us back to him, if we will listen. That he can use adversity and affliction to nourish us, allowing us to see what he is trying to teach us. And, he honors us with the opportunity to make our own choices, he does not force us, but rather allows us the privilege to participate with him on this journey.