Learning The Hard Way

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels. Oh, that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways!”  Psalm 81:10–13

One of the best ways to teach a person that the way they’re doing something is the wrong way is to let them do it their way and experience the results, stress and frustration of doing it the wrong way. Usually, if they’re not to proud to admit they were wrong, this will result in a lasting avoidance of the way they once thought was right and commitment to doing things the right way. We call this learning something the hard way. 

One thing not mentioned in the above scenario is that the person learning their lesson the hard way has been instructed in the correct course of action and has actually been given a choice on how to do the task. I’ve seen and experienced some supervisors or instructors sending their charges to work with no instruction forcing them to learn the hard way. Far better it would have been to give instructions before time, resources, and energy were waisted. 

Psalm eighty-one reveals that God is a good leader and instructor. Before Israel ever had any tasks given to her God taught his people his ways and instructed them in what they ought to do. He promised to prosper and provide for them if they would be faithful and do all that he had commanded them to do. 

But God doesn’t force us to see things his way. God doesn’t irresistibly block our every disobedient action. Verse twelve of Psalm eighty-one, and part of our focus text, tells us that God gave Israel over to a stubborn heart and allowed them to walk in their own counsels. 

That stubborn heart was the one they already hard and the counsels were their own as well. Because they insisted, God allowed them to learn the hard way that life could be better if they would follow him and let him bless them in all the ways he wanted to. 

He works the same way with us today. Most, if not all, of the frustration and difficulty we experience in the church and in our families is the result of our not listening to him and following his instructions. The Bible is full of counsel and advice that applies to nearly every aspect of life and the Holy Spirit is present every second of every day to teach us so that we don’t misapply even a single word.  But still, if we insist on ignoring him, he’ll send us out to learn things the hard way. Not because he wanted to but because we insisted on it. 

What a loving, wise and good God. 

O Lord, help me to learn today and every day that you know the way I should go and I don’t have a clue. Help me to choose to listen and to follow. Especially when I think I might know better on my own. 

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