BREAD AND WATER
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. Isaiah 30:20 (NIV)
One can survive on bread and water. When our children were little and needed some attitude adjustments, they were served dry crusts for a meal (see Proverbs 17:1). Not fair, you say? See my first statement.
There are times when I need to eat dry crusts because my attitude stinks and my mouth is spewing unkind words. I balk at affliction, I squawk at long lines and get unreasonably irritated at injustices or inhumane things being done to folks around me, around the country, around the world.
If you notice in Isaiah, we are given bread and water. Not just any kind – one is adversity; the other affliction. Nice tasty meal, that. As I stated above, one can live on bread and water. It’s not a diverse diet, but it is capable of sustaining life.
Who’s life? Ours.
God is Sovereign and in His sovereignty He deems this meal as life-giving to people at times. On the outside, it may seem cruel, but God is doing a work – and His work is always good (Psalm 119:68). That does not mean we have to like the bread or the water.
It means we need to accept them and surrender.
Yes, surrender to the will of the Father. Isaiah goes on to say:
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 20:21 (NIV)
Our Father is leading us in the new diet plan. He knows what we need and He directs us to it. Jesus is the fulfillment of the bread and water – He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and the Living Water (John 7:37-38). The Father is directing us to the Son.
As the writer of Hebrews challenges us to keep our eyes on the race and the prize (Hebrews 12:2), we are to run this race with purpose, grit and determination to finish. Even if it includes adversity and affliction.
Adversity is no picnic, neither is affliction. Both are painful, costly and unplanned. Normally does one wake up and excitedly exclaim, “Today, adversity is on the books!”
So how do we handle:
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
I'm thinking we need to live in such a way our lives reflect this attitude regardless of circumstances. Whether it is a day of adversity or one filled with affliction. Leave emotions out of the equation – we can do all in the name of the Lord.
Leading our hearts is paramount, so is checking our mouths. Letting our hearts have dominion of emotions and decisions can reap serious negative consequences – namely, bad attitude, wandering and eventually being lost. My emotions get the better of me too often. Before I know what happens, I have fumed, demanded or said something I wish I had not. Rather like toothpaste – once it is squeezed out of the tube, the paste cannot be squeezed back in.
So, how do we handle this diet plan of adversity water and affliction bread? Do we go to the store to buy a new brand without pain and hardship? Do we search everywhere looking for a way out? Do we put a limit on the diet and then revert back to our old ways?
Because it is a plan specifically designed by God for each person, no pat answer exists. “Grin and bear it,” “Suck it up Buttercup,” and “Brace Yourself,” come to mind. But it’s more than this.
Jesus, our Teacher
Isaiah tells us our teachers will be hidden no more. What name did the disciples call Jesus in (John 13:13-14)? Teacher. Yes, Jesus is our Teacher. By coming to Him and learning from Him while wearing the yoke, we can begin to know where to go – to the right or to the left, or even forward.
With Jesus in the yoke with us, I’d suggest following His lead rather than pulling against Him. Your neck will get tired and full of blisters as you rub against the yoke. Yokes are heavy, uncomfortable and traditionally a burden. But Jesus assures us, His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
In the yoke with Jesus, we are in the adversity and affliction with Jesus too. He does not abandon us in our hour of need, nor are we having to walk the road alone. We have our Teacher with us, who is the Bread of Life (notice it’s life not death) and the Living Water (again, living, not dying). Our adversity is meant to give life. Our affliction is for life-sustaining goodness of God.
How can we understand it is? By giving thanks, staying in the yoke and doing all in the name of the Lord. With God all things are possible (Luke 1:37).
Father God, I do thank You for being Sovereign. I thank You for giving me bread and water even though at times they are of adversity and affliction. Help me Lord to stay in the yoke with Your Son. May I learn from Him, and may I keep my eyes on Jesus, the prize. In the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son. AMEN