Obeying God isn’t always easy. We know it ultimately brings joy, but sometimes it’s painful. Sometimes it’s costly—including persecution and death. Most of us in North America don’t often face those extremes, but it’s still sometimes agonizing when obedience costs us friends, positions, opportunities, etc. Here are some simple suggestions if obedience has hurt for you.
- Don’t be surprised by the cost of obedience. We aren’t the first ones to pay a price for following God. Jeremiah was beaten, held in the stocks, and later cast into prison for obeying God’s call to prophecy (Jer 20, 32). The apostle Paul faced similar results for taking the gospel to the nations (Acts 16). And, of course, fully obeying the Father cost Jesus His life (Luke 22-23). In some ways, comparing our stories to the faithfulness of others often makes our own costs seem trivial—though nevertheless real.
- Cry out to God. When our faith costs us something, that’s not the time to run from prayer; rather, it’s the time to run to God. Forget about the most “spiritual” language, and just lay your heartache before God. Perhaps these verses help move you in that direction:
- “Turn to me, and be gracious to me; Oh grant Your strength to Your servant, and save the son of Your handmaid.” (Psa 86:16)
- “O may Your lovingkindness comfort me, According to Your word to Your servant.” (Psa 119:76)
- “. . . who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor 1:4)
- “. . . and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be anydeath; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev 21:4)
- Share your burden with someone who loves you and will pray for you. Something just happens to us when we tell somebody else about our pain. Because others now share it with us, the weight of the pain feels a bit lighter. And, we can know that we’re never alone as someone prays for us.
- Let your faith be real. Faith is seeing what we cannot see, believing when it’s hard to believe, and trusting even when prior trust has brought anguish. When obedience hurts, faith means looking forward to the future. It means pressing through the pain because we genuinely believe that God will work His will for His glory and for our good.
- Don’t turn to disobedience. It’s one thing when we hurt because we’ve been obedient, but it’s another kind of hurt we bring on ourselves by our disobedience. It’s never a smart move to turn to disobedience just because obedience has hurt.
What other suggestions would you add?