One of the questions I like to ask groups is, “What motivates you more, pain or pleasure?” Honestly, the rooms are usually split on the question until I probe deeper. To those who say pleasure, I ask, “Why are you not on a beach somewhere right now?” It’s because the have to work right now. Then why not leave? It’s because the pain of losing their job keeps them from walking out and going to something pleasurable. Pain, or the threat of pain, is a far greater motivator than pleasure in our lives. That’s why since the beginning of time parents have used it to motivate their kids to obey through pain or threat of pain. Even God, our Heavenly Father, uses pain to motivate us and develop character in us.
Years ago I took an about face in my faith. I professed Jesus with my mouth, but my life was anything but living for Him. God tried the gentle whisper and conviction of the Holy Spirit to warn me to turn back around, but I failed to listen. As time went on, I started going through painful experiences, one after another, as God was trying to get my attention. He kept going until I couldn’t take it anymore and finally said, “Ok, God, you win. I give up.” Even though I turned back around, I still lived with the consequences of that period of my life, but God used them to develop character in me that was missing. He fundamentally reshaped me through the pain of that time. Like a good parent, He didn’t give up. His love kept coming after me and doing whatever it took to bring me back.
Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it” (TPT). It’s only when we yield that He can create the transformation in us. As long as we’re fighting and running from His purpose or calling on our life, He will do whatever it takes to bring us home so we can fulfill our purpose. Thank God He doesn’t stop chasing after us no matter how far we go. It’s a good thing, though it doesn’t seem like it at the time, that He will do whatever it takes to get your attention. I was pretty stubborn, but I’ve learned that the sooner we yield, the faster we see the harvest of His work in our lives.