June 27, 2017 • Life for Leaders
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.
Though God showed immense patience in his relationship with the people of Israel, sometimes their persistent rebellion brought his wrath upon them. They received “the bread of adversity and the water of affliction” (30:20).
Yet God did not abandon his wayward people. He remained with them, and, in his time, made himself known to them as their teacher. Where our translation reads, “your teachers will be hidden no more,” the Hebrew original states literally, “your teacher [singular] will not hide himself any longer.” In times of suffering, it can seem as if God is completely absent. We wonder if God has forgotten about us completely. The good news is that he continues to be with us, even when we cannot perceive him. In time, he will make himself known with new clarity and intimacy. He will teach us, and we will be in a place to learn with open minds and hearts.
As Christians, we understand that Jesus is our teacher. Sometimes we neglect this truth, perhaps because we don’t want to be numbered among those who see Jesus only as a “good teacher,” or perhaps because Jesus’s teaching about the kingdom of God is hard to understand, or perhaps because we find elements of Jesus’s teaching unsettling to our comfortable lives. Jesus the teacher doesn’t just give us a few “keys” or “secrets” to better living, leaving us otherwise intact. Rather, he confronts us with the astounding and disruptive proclamation of the kingdom of God. He calls us out of our comfort zones and into a life of following him. Jesus the teacher asks questions of us and stirs up our questions of him. Yet, when we heed his teaching, when we believe and live his word, then we begin to walk in the way of divine blessing and ultimate meaning. We discover that we are essential participants in God’s kingdom mission, that our daily work matters eternally, and that God will use us in ways that exceed our wildest dreams.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have there been times in your life when you were “feasting” on adversity and suffering?
In those times, did you sense God’s presence, or did he seem to be hiding?
When has God made himself known to you as your teacher?
In what ways is Jesus your teacher? Can you think of something you have learned from Jesus recently?
How might you attend more consistently to the teaching of Jesus?
Gracious God, when I experience difficult times, my suffering is multiplied by your apparent absence. Sometimes when I cry out to you, it feels as if you’re a million miles away. Though I realize that you have your reasons for “hiding” from me, I must confess that I don’t like it one bit.
Yet, when I can’t feel your presence, I find that my longing for you increases. I want you more and more. Thus I’m ready to welcome you in my life as my Lord, my Comforter, and, yes, my Teacher.
Thank you, Teacher, for making yourself known to me… through Christ, through the Scriptures, through the whispering of your Spirit, through the grace of your people, through the bread and the cup, and in so many other ways. How good it is to know you and learn from you. May I do so more each day. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: Paradise High
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.