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The Way of Pain

The Way of Pain

Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger . . . I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity . . . Isaiah 13:9-11

Four years ago, this week, I was in my first few days of chemical dependency treatment. This means I have been clean for four years, but it is a bittersweet anniversary, difficult to celebrate, as it was such a painful time. Yes, I was clean, but my life was an absolute disaster. I had pursued my own appetite to its inevitable end and I was reaping the consequences of going my own way, the way of pain.

Anyone who struggles likes to embrace the God of love, mercy and grace. Anyone who has failed repeatedly prefers to think of God as a kind, grandfatherly figure who would never raise his voice in anger and who would never punish.

Today’s passage however, is a sobering reminder that though God is patient, loving, and gracious, he does not tolerate my rebellion forever. When I choose opposition to God, I pursue misery and destruction. God is not mocked, I eventually reap what I sow.

I may enjoy the gratification that comes from following my own appetite for a time. Initially, I may appear to get away with it, but eventually, whatever it is, controls me and as the consequences pile up, I cannot turn around. Misery and self-hatred become the norm as I ask myself, Why did I go my way?

Thankfully, there is another way. We do not have to live like this, wallowing in our own destruction. It will not be easy – change can be horribly difficult – but we can turn around. If we are willing, we can do whatever it takes – go to treatment, change jobs, throw out the junk food, get rid of internet access – to abandon our way of pain to follow the way of life.

Following God requires some sacrifice, but we will find that it is, in the end, no real loss to give up our misery to gain the joy and peace that comes from following the way of life.

 

 

 

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