Our friends got a very unsettling phone call. Their 33-year-old son had some fairly severe mental disabilities – severe enough that years ago they made the painful decision that he required the kind of care that only a trained staff and a professional facility could provide. The call came that told them that their son just had a very serious fall, and the injuries could have been fatal. Thank God he recovered, but needless to say, the close call shook his parents who love him very much. His mom told me that from the time he was first walking as a young child, they have told him over and over again, “Slow down. Slow down, son!” She said if they had a nickel for every time they’ve said, “Slow down,” they’d be wealthy. And the reason for his fall? You probably guessed it. He was going faster than he could safely walk. He didn’t “slow down.”
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Needless Pain.”
This man’s mom couldn’t help thinking that if her son could just get the idea of obeying what he’s been told so many times, he would have a lot less pain, he’d have fewer scars, and those around him would have a lot less stress. That’s got to be how God looks at you and me sometimes. He’s saying, “If only you would do what I’ve told you over and over, you’d have a lot less pain, fewer scars, and so would the people around you.”
The most needless pain in the world is the pain that comes from not obeying, especially not obeying God. In Deuteronomy 28, beginning with verse 1, our word for today from the Word of God, the Lord spells out the core issue that determines whether our life works right or doesn’t work right.
God says, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commands…all these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.” Then God goes on and lists many good outcomes His people will experience in their work, their family, their battles.
A few verses later, God says, “However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all His commands…all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” What follows then is a list of bad outcomes in their work, their family, their battles. Same arenas, same people, same issues – opposite outcomes. The only difference: whether or not God’s people are doing what He said to do in the way He said to do it.
That is still true today. And it just might explain some of the struggle and the pain that you’ve been going through – needless pain. Because there’s something or some things that you’re just not doing God’s way; with your money, with your family, in your relationships, your love life, what you’re doing with your life. Maybe you’re harboring resentment and disobeying your Lord’s command to forgive. Or maybe you’re just going down a sinful road, hanging onto some sinful choices, trying to justify them all the way. But bottom line, you’re disobeying God. And things are not going to work until you turn from your way and surrender to doing it God’s way.
You know what’s the right thing to do. And now Jesus is saying to you, as He said to His disciples in John 13:17, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” So much pain, so much grief, so much stress just because you’re not obeying your Lord who bought you with His blood. Relief isn’t going to come when your circumstances change. No, relief will come when you change.