Make It Hurt
Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. Act 9:8
Mired in my addiction, realizing I wasn’t willing to do what it took to get sober, I once asked God to do whatever it took to get me there. Previously, I’d prayed many times for a miraculous change to my appetite, but that didn’t happen. So, I finally asked God to inflict whatever misery was required to transform me. I knew how dangerous of a prayer it was. I was aware of the consequences. Still, I knew it was my only chance. If I was going to find a new way of living, God needed to make the old way so painful that I would do anything to abandon it. It would have been better if I’d chosen obedience in the first place, but because I was unwilling to do so, God had to make it hurt.
Today’s passage tells of how God intervened similarly in Saul’s life. Saul wasn’t addicted to drugs, but he made himself an enemy of God by arresting and imprisoning followers of Christ. Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1), Saul lived a life contrary to God’s plan for him. He was never going to find his way to Jesus on his own, and so, God literally blinded him with light. Saul was a radical and a zealot and as such, required a firm hand and no small amount of discomfort to provoke him to change directions. It’s as if God said, You will follow me or else . . .
In the miserable consequences of my addiction, I could have continued to use drugs. I had that freedom. Thankfully though, God made it so miserable to continue down my path that I got to the point where I’d do anything to change. That was the beginning of transformation – when I became willing to obey. It hurt to get there, but for the foolish and stubborn like me, that’s what it sometimes takes.
We should, of course, choose obedience in the first place. Because God loves us and wants what’s best for us, we should voluntarily abandon our way for his. When we don’t, because God loves us, he will often discipline us in a way that painfully redirects us to his path. When he does this, we will have a choice – continue in our self-destruction, or, do whatever it takes to abandon our misery and follow him to a life of hope, joy, and peace.