Pain and Growth
When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. Deuteronomy 4:30
The worst thing about being a physician is that we must often cause pain to bring healing. It’s difficult to convince a three-year-old that the anesthetic being injected into his already-painful laceration is what he needs. Before the agony of a dislocated shoulder is relieved, a patient must experience the misery of manipulating it back into place.
This is one of the most frustrating things for all of us – we often must endure pain and trials to experience healing and growth. We may wish it weren’t so, but it is our nature to resist change until the status quo becomes more miserable than the discomfort of transformation.
Just as I do often don’t want to go to the doctor until I am sick of my sickness, I often do not want to follow God until the misery of following me drives me to Him. In my drug addiction, if I had never suffered consequences, I would never have seen my need for God’s intervention.
I wish this were a lesson I learned only once. Like the Israelites in today’s passage though, I seem bent on repeating my self-inflicted trials. It may not be drugs today, but whenever I indulge in my own arrogance, need for affirmation, greed or selfishness, I betray the fact that I still must learn and grow.
In the passage, Moses predicted about the Israelites what he could just as easily predict about us. We often, in times of success, will turn from God, to follow ourselves. In doing so, we will cause ourselves misery and pain. In that pain, we return to God, for it is often only then, that we become willing to grow.
It need not be this way. We can daily abandon self to follow God, learning to avoid our self-inflicted misery. This does not mean we will live trial-free lives, but when we follow God instead of ourselves, we grow life instead of death.