“The Lord will make you go through hard times, but he himself will be there to teach you, and you will not have to search for him any more. If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it.” Isaiah 30:20-21 GNT
One of the qualities I look for in true friendship is to know that someone has my back. There is something rare and precious about a relationship where you know someone is really behind you. In moments of struggle and confusion a friend saying, “keep going”, “you’ve got this”, “you are right on track” can sometimes be all that you need to keep pushing you in the right direction.
We all need voices of assurance in our lives. No one is exempt from this. God made it that way. Voices influence us continually. Some for the good and others lead us astray. Regardless, the voice behind us influences our course and direction.
Some of the more challenging times in my life have been when I was facing difficulty and the voice I needed to hear became muffled. The wrong voices got louder and confusion would try and take me off the path of life. Yet, each time, the faint voice of truth would begin to get louder and louder until it became clear and overpowered the voices of confusion. Clarity would manifest, peace would flood my heart, and I would be reminded that my teacher has my back. He is a true friend.
We are in a generation of much noise. Silence is rare, and undervalued. We are bombarded with the voice of confusion, clutter, and complacency. However, in the midst of all of this noise, there is a voice we can depend on. A voice we can be sure of. One that will break through all of the noise and mess, one that will lift the fog and confusion and speak clarity to our hearts. One that truly has our back, for this voice comes behind us to cheer us on, reminding us that curves in the road are coming, danger is lurking, enemies are hiding in the bush, but to keep the course.
This voice is calling to us and telling us how to keep steady and true, where to turn and where to go straight. We don’t need to see the whole road, or journey, we just need to listen to the voice of our Lord and Teacher, speaking continually to all who will listen. Do you hear Him? He has your back. Which voice are you listening to today?
Today I am thankful for a God who has my back. He does not leave me in a place of confusion, but reminds me that if I will stop and listen, His direction is clear. I am grateful for His steadfast voice that can break through all of the noise and clutter in my life and speak clarity to my heart and my path. I am grateful that noise does not stop Him from revealing Himself as my teacher and that He is training my ear to hear a still small humble voice in a loud and obnoxious world. I am blessed and covered.
Susan Craig says:February 27, 2015 at 5:27 am
What happens when God makes His will plain in His Word and His people neither listen to Him-nor follow His teaching? When God’s people go to other sources for advice and protection when God has the best advice and is willing and able to protect us? We go through hard times-not because the Lord wants to punish us but because the natural consequences of not listening,trusting or obeying our Lord takes us far from His grace and goodness. But when we are humbled, and we come back to the Lord and seek His face, we discover He is right where He has been all along. He does not move away from us-we move away from Him. I don’t know about you, but I have felt the pain of consequences when I have wandered from my Lord. It takes the hard times to bring us to our senses and make us realize how far we have strayed from the right path and essentially we had taken a detour. One thing about God that is so heartening is that He is always willing to forgive His people when they come to Him in true repentance and confess their sins. It is easy to stray from the truth when we listen to the wrong people and follow the wrong advice. Advice in this world is easy to find-everyone loves to give advice. But not all advice is the right advice for us. Learning to discern God’s voice amongst all the clatter is a skill that takes practice. Recognizing God’s small voice among so many loud voices is something that takes years of practicing listening to God in prayer and also when we read and meditate on His word. There are some clues that can help us pick His voice out of the crowd. His is not the loud ,demanding voice. His is not the pressured,impatient voice. It is not the voices that generate confusion in our minds. His is the voice that we can pick up out of the crowd-it will grab your attention and you will feel His peace as you listen because when you are really listening ,it is not difficult to hear Him. And what is said rings a chord inside you and you know immediately that voice is from Him. It is often the advice that goes against what most people would be saying. For an example-I had a major family crisis a few weeks back when my son was missing for 3-4 days. I heard many voices from my family and friends but not one of them sounded right to me. If what you are hearing does not sit right with your spirit,you know it because it makes you more agitated and less settled than before you heard it. Job’s three friends were well meaning but the advice they gave Job was not helpful and was not from God. I finally heard God speaking through one friend who told me something noone else had said and I could not get it out of my head-it was the opposite of any other advice I had gotten that day. The Holy Spirit inside me recognized that was what I needed to hear and He kept me coming back to that one statement that stood out from all the others. So I listened and did what she had said and it was like a big load came off of me. God told me my son was going to be OK and I accepted His word and became a very thankful person at that moment,which was a full 24 hours before we heard from our son and he told us he was OK. God was in control-my son was in His hands and it was going to be OK-God wanted me to trust Him with my son. AS soon as I heard what He was telling me, the anxiety and fear left me right away. I was left with a deep calmness and peace that I didn’t have for 2 full days before that. I am learning how to listen better. Each crisis I have in my life, I will have the ability to listen for what God is trying to teach me through it. Thank you Lord that you do not give up on us. Teach us how to listen better for your direction in our lives
Sue Holmes says:February 27, 2015 at 12:22 pm
Susan, there was a nugget in your commentary above that really spoke to me (speaking of voices). 🙂
“God wanted me to trust Him with my son.” It reminds me that He never asks us to do anything that He hasn’t already done Himself. Just as He wants us to trust Him with whatever is most precious in our lives, He has trusted us with His Son. It is true that we love Him because He first loved us. He gave us His Son knowing full well that we would reject Him, mock Him & eventually crucify Him (yes, our sins did that) … but still He asked us to trust Him.
Your experience with trusting God when your son was missing is such a vivid demonstration of hearing “his voice behind you saying, “Here is the road. Follow it.” “.
Susan Craig says:February 27, 2015 at 3:55 pm
This is beautiful Sue-God does not ask us to do something He has not already done ahead of us. The parent in me forgot to trust the parent in Him. He gave His Son – I was holding onto mine so tight that I was having trouble letting go. Fear has a way of making you not trust-we hold unto the familiar ways of doing things and in doing so we resist change and we resist God. Thank you for sharing your insight!!
Pat McRae says:February 27, 2015 at 3:34 pm
Susan, thank you I am heading back to Canada in two weeks and the situations there are not to my liking. Your ‘God was in control’ helps me to remember I left my family in His hands, and His hands are large enough to take care of all the situations and circumstance. I can go and love them, speak a word of wisdom if He says to or just be His shining light in their darkness. Thanks
Ethel Steeves says:February 27, 2015 at 8:58 am
I really needed to read this this morning and I’m so thankful for a God that I know will always have my back,he is always with us but some times we may forget that he has always been right there and has heard our prayers when we think he hasn’t
Sue Holmes says:February 27, 2015 at 12:08 pm
Ethel, thanks for that reminder even He hears even when we think He doesn’t. I’ve had moments when it seems He is a million miles away, but He really isn’t. He’s ‘rock solid’ and He’s got us. 🙂
Susan Craig says:February 27, 2015 at 4:01 pm
Thanks Ethel for reminding me that we are the ones with the hearing problem-God ears work perfectly!! 🙂
Sue Holmes says:February 27, 2015 at 12:03 pm
I’ve both read & quoted today’s verse many times but reading it today with the commentary that follows it really brings it alive for where I am here & now.
I am so appreciative of the voices of assurance in my life. They have been the ones that have had such a clear tone that you know it was God – whether I agreed with or initially welcomed the voice or not.
There have been times when I would start on a path that I felt was the one God chose for me but not necessarily the one I would have liked. One of those hard paths the scripture referred to. God is faithful & when I would hesitate He would whisper from behind “keep going” or “it’s going to be ok”, or maybe “I’ve got you”. Often He has donned flesh and used the voice of a friend, a Pastor, or His own through His Word.
But all too often the enemy will use a familiar voice as well. He came to Eve in the form of one of God’s creations, something she had no previous reason to fear or doubt. And He has come to me in the form of the well meaning … and often my own voice telling myself what I want to hear. Sometimes these voices are likely the ones Paul refers to in 2 Timothy 4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
I’m grateful today for the voice of God in my life. I’m grateful for the times of silence when I can hear Him speak so clearly through His Word. I’m grateful that He is willing to be both Lord & Teacher. I’m sure that the ‘teacher’ part has taken a lot of patience through the years. And I’m grateful for the people around me who have been willing to be His voice in my life. It isn’t always an easy decision to speak into someone’s life, not knowing how it will be received or how the one receiving it will respond. I’m grateful that I don’t need to see the whole path, that it is enough for His Word to be “a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path”. 🙂
Susan Craig says:February 27, 2015 at 3:45 pm
I totally get the 2 Timothy 4 reference-I was thinking of that verse last night when I added my words above but I could not place the reference. I have studied Isaiah 30 in the past and have several notes in my Bible on it. Reading that whole chapter puts the verses we are thinking of into perspective.The Lord was speaking to His people but they did not want to listen-probably because they did not trust God’s way to be the best way-they went everywhere else to get their advice but not to God. They put their own plans above God’s Will. They had itchy ears. But their itchy ears had consequences for them because those they put their trust in were found to be unreliable and the result was they ended up crawling back to God eating humble pie. I have been there so I have a good idea how they felt. When we don’t listen to God’s voice, we are trusting other things/people/ourselves and the detours we take-usually due to the pride of wanting to go our own way/do our own thing- never bring us the results we planned on. My way or God’s way. We always have a choice. But the choice to choose God’s way is always the better choice. Praying that my own itchy ears and my own plans do not detour me from God’s path and His best plan for my life. Praying that I hear His voice and I follow Him today and everyday. Also praying that He will still the voices that would lead me away from Him. Thy Will not my will Lord.
Pat McRae says:February 27, 2015 at 3:19 pm
What a comforting Scripture these verses are. The portion that has me pondering is:”though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction”. I am having a hard time seeing it! Why? Well as a mother I would do all in my power to see my girls not having to face adversity and affliction. I am human, and do not have nearly the love for my girls as God has for me. So if I would not purposely give them these why would God give them to me? Also lately God has been speaking to me about my wanting to give peace, joy, confidence etc. to others. That can only happen if I possess them my self, I can not give what I do not have. Now my Bible says every good gift comes down from heaven above. And although God can turn my adversity and affliction around for my good, I can not believe He ‘gives’ these two, adversity and affliction, to me. Does maybe ‘give’ have another meaning in Scripture, than my understanding of the word? So I looked up ‘give’ in the Greek to see its meaning.(I hope I am looking at the right language 🙂 ). When I take what little I know about God and His goodness, love, mercy and apply it to the verse I see this ‘give’ as meaning ‘permit’. This fits better in my spirit and my experiences in life. I have been one of those children who hears the word ‘NO’ and is sure it means ‘YES’. I so wanted my way I would take the consequences, not in a good attitude, but I would take them to have my way. If ‘No’ was the answer I would push for a ‘YES’ or just do my thing anyway. Wow! Light bulb! I have handed this generational curse down to at least two of my grandchildren. No reward great enough, no discipline effective enough to get them to do what they decided they will not do. Oh Lord, please forgive me, and heal and set free my grandchildren so they do not have to learn every lesson through adversity and affliction.
I have many such experiences, starting at a very young age and continuing until 2009. It was then that I finally decided I was tired of living in adversity and affliction. I decided to humble myself to His mighty hand and learn to wait for His open door or closed door. It was going to be totally His decision and I would walk where He said to walk. I have not always been successful but I see progress and my heart desires His will only so I know victory will be mine! Hallelujah!!!
One of these experiences that could of wiped my off the face of this earth started in 2002. The warehouse where I worked as an inventory specialist closed and we were all paid out because they had no jobs to move us to. My Patti was sick with her diabetes and the prognosis for her infected big toe was amputation. So I in my wonderful decision making ability decided ‘Mom to the rescue’. She was married with two children, but was having trouble keeping up with her bills, to the point she could not even afford her insulin. So against all Godly advice and others wisdom, I moved from BC to Ontario to help out. My mother passed away in January 2002 so I was looking at getting a nice inheritance. The ‘rescuer’ paid the bills, bought the food, and insulin and worked her butt off helping her daughter care for the horses she was training. She and I decided to buy a farm and open a training centre for horses. Against every closed door I kicked and screamed until I totally believed God said:” ok girlfriend, I have tried to save you the heartache but I lift my hand, go for it.” So we found a farm four hours away from everyone and everything and I bought it with my inheritance. The short version is in three months I was sitting on a farm by myself, wondering what I was going to do. I tried to sell but that didn’t happen until 2005 and the time in between was hell. I remember saying to the pastor’s wife at a ladies meeting I knew what hell was like I was living in it. She got a little upset with me and said I had no idea what the real hell would be like. At the time I thought, ‘trade you lives for a month then you can tell me that’ but today I know she spoke the truth, I was just to hurt to see it then. In 2005 it was God who sold my farm. I sold at a huge lose to someone who saw the farm on the Internet, in England. God gave me enough to come out of debt and pay the mortgage. It was a lesson I hoped I would not repeat, but out of the frying pan into the fire as the saying goes. I will save that for another time.
Today I am thankful to God that during that season I learned to lean on Him fully. I learned to recognize His provision, His protection, and His voice. He taught the lessons fully with enough grace to keep my heart soft but enough discipline to make me decide I was not going to be anyone’s ‘rescuer’ again, I would leave that job up to Him! I am thankful that today I hear His voice directing my steps. I am thankful God showed me grace and mercy over all my years of life, I am sure if I was God I would of given up years ago on me. I can truthfully say I see how over the years He has taken every situation and turned it for my good in the end. Everyone of them has brought me one step closer to Him and built my confidence to trust His judgment on situations. I am thankful now I hear the gentle, quiet voice, leading me away from adversity and affliction. And if I do slip for some reason I am quicker to see the warning signs that say wrong way! You will not find me kicking doors down these days! If I hear Him say, “It is yours, I have given it to you!” then the devil better step aside because that door is coming down. I am thankful although He gave in to my demands He never gave up on me and with a love I am only starting to understand brought me through to victory in Him!
I am most thankful today that my experiences lead me to Him in a more intimate relationship, and not away from Him.
Susan Craig says:February 28, 2015 at 1:46 am
I don’t know if this will help you with the meaning of the bread of adversity and the water of affliction but I will try to add some insight. In Isaiah Chapter 30, the Israelites wanted freedom to make their own choices-they did not want to be forced to live under the law with all it’s restrictions. They thought God was keeping them back from enjoying the pleasures of life. So the Lord let them go their own way and watched them go from the frying pan into the fire-the Lord could have put a hedge around them to keep them safe but He didn’t-He did try to warn them though but they wouldn’t listen to Him. When we are like the Israelites ,we won’t listen to His voice either- just like rebellious teenagers do not want to obey or listen to their parents. They were looking for freedom to make their own choices with no boundaries/restrictions on them and ended up behind prison walls of their own making. How often does it happen to us that whatever we are seeking after, apart from God, ends up doing the opposite of what we thought it would do?? Consequences of going our own way and not listening to God’s instruction are affliction and adversity-not fun and certainly not what we were expecting.The bread and water mentioned in these verses remind us of the”prison diet.” God was willing to pour out His blessings on us but we wanted what the world offered instead. We ended up with bread and water-enough to survive on but nothing more. It is not until we get to this point, that we realize we were wrong to not trust or listen to God. It is in these moments that we become teachable and we listen and we learn from our Teacher. The lessons we learn in this process(the hard way)we remember well because we never want to go back to that prison again. It is a prison of our own making because of our rebellious heart and ways-the prison of consequences. But thankfully God hears our cry and has the key to open the prison doors and set the captives free. We are free to now follow Him- but a lot closer than we ever did before because we know how weak we are,and how prone we are to wander from His pathway and we need to stay close to Him and even hold His Hand for the rest of the way -a lesson hard learned is one we should never forget. I have been down rebellion road and landed into trouble of my own choosing-my way led to adversity and affliction and the bread and water diet of barely surviving too. I am thankful the Lord heard my cries when I realized the error of my ways and He rescued me from my prison and set me back on His path. I wish I could say He removed the consequences but that was not what happened. But I am thankful He kept the consequences on me because they were instrumental in keeping me closer to Him and gave me a healthy fear of straying far from Him again. Forgiveness,restoration,reunion and fellowship with Him are blessings I enjoy now along with many others thanks to our loving Heavenly Father who is always willing to welcome repentant prodigals back home. Grateful for lessons learned the hard way and for the joy I feel because He has forgiven me.
Pat McRae says:February 28, 2015 at 2:04 pm
Thanks Susan, I think we are saying the same thing just in different words. I agree life is full of adversity and affliction and just like you if I am understanding correctly they are ours by choice. I chose my way and walk down a road that ends in adversity and affliction. It is nice to have aged enough to look back and see those choices and the consequences so we can make better ones. Blessings to you!
Jim Holmes says:February 27, 2015 at 10:34 pm
What does it look like to grow in spirit and in truth? Why on earth would I want the hard times in my life? The scripture for today implies that the Lord “will make” one go through hard times and that he will be there to teach us. Jesus is qualified to teach us, because He ran the race that we too run, and He won! He got His Certification. Did you not know that it was Jesus Who fulfilled the law and He did not sin. So then, the law (fulfilled in Christ) is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. Hard and difficult times test us. When we recognize that we constantly are in need of Him, He is there with you. You identify with Him in your suffering. How can we be grateful for what He did for us, if we did not know His suffering. Taking up our cross to follow Him, is to lay down our life so that we become also identified in His resurrection, and to know that all things have become new…that you have been born from above. The Lord “will make” you…because you do not belong to yourself. You belong to Jesus. He is the Potter and you the clay. Jesus knows your needs …. for Him to walk and carry you through many a situation or trial…. To not abandon you…but to refine you. You are His joy, His creation. He is your Way, your Truth, and your Life. Let us then , with joy, walk according to the Light, for He is the Light of the world, and the Word a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. (Ps 119:105)
With fear and trembling we are to work out our salvation. It is Jesus that saves. In His hands, He “will make” us. Let us have a humble heart, putting our trust in Him in all times, especially in hard times. All praise and glory to God.