Your future heart attack:
You knew eating high fat food was terrible for you, but you ate it all the time anyway. You knew your sedentary lifestyle was also terrible for you, but you never got around to exercising. You deliberately avoided getting your cholesterol levels checked because you were afraid of what it would show. And now you’re in the emergency room with a full blown hear attack trying to not die, and your family is wringing their hands in desperate worry.
Your future car accident:
A drunk driver rammed into you. You are now in the hospital, in surgery, getting assorted organs repaired and bones re-set. You will endure a painful recovery complete with at least six months of rehab. You cannot work at your employment in the meanitme, meaning this is a huge financial blow to your family.
Your future lung cancer:
You knew all the warnings about tobacco and cancer, but you continued to smoke anyway. You knew about all the products designed to help you quit, but you refused them. And now you’re in a hospice room, breathing your last few breaths because lung cancer ambushed your perfect life.
Your future home foreclosure:
You had a great job and thus bought a good home for you, your wife and your kids. A few years later your employer goes bankrupt and you’re out of a job. Now your wife has to work a part time job at McDonald’s while you end up slaving away 40 hours per week in a low paying job as you continue to seek a better paying job. You cannot keep up with the house payments and end up moving in with your brother’s family until you can get back on your feet.
Your future birthday party:
Your friends decide to celebrate your milestone birthday by taking you out to a local bar. You have a few too many drinks. You vomit on another bar patron. A fight ensues. You wake up the next morning stinking of booze breath, with a fat lip and black eye, in the county jail.
Your future family dinner:
For fun you take your wife and kids out to a restaurant for supper. The next day you are terribly sick and with a high fever; you end up in the emergency room with a raging case of E.Coli. You are hospitalized for the next week due to the contaminted food you ate at the restaurant.
Do you see the differences here?
TRIALS are the things that happen to you when you are unaware of the dangers, or when you are forced into a situation.
CONSEQUENCES are what happens to you when you are aware of the dangers but choose to ignore them.
Although God realizes that we have bad judgment at times and make the wrong choices in spite of knowledge, He isn’t obligated to save us from ourselves. The Bible clearly states that we should not test God by acting recklessly (Matthew 4:5-7 ), and that we should expect direct consequences for our actions (Galatians 6:7-8). The Bible also warns that bad decisions on one’s part can end in death (Proverbs 1:32, 14:12, 16:25 ).
As for trials, on the other hand, The Bible makes a difference: In cases where believers are unaware or are forced into a situation God was willing to come to the rescue (Genesis 19:1-21, Daniel 3, Acts 5:18-19)
Therefore, when something bad happens to you it’s very important to consider whether you brought it upon yourself, or if it was a situation out of your control.
If you find that you have indeed brought it upon yourself we strongly encourage you to ask for forgiveness and repent of your error. You may still have to endure the consequences (just like David did when the Bath-Sheba “thing” happened), but God will have not forgotten you.
If, on the other hand, you know it’s a trial that you had no control over we still strongly encourage you to seek God, for that is where your strength and help will come from. Take His hand and He will guide you through the dark and back into the light. (Satan does love to block the light with his darkness, don’t let him win!)
The gist of the matter is this: Please be aware of the differences between trials and consequences, and act with wisdom when it comes to situations involving consequences, and pray for forgiveness (and yes, we’ve all had our stupid “consequence” moments!). And if you are in the midst of a trial, continue to act with wisdom as you lean on God for help. But either way, if you lean on God, He does not leave you.
Amen, and peace.
(With a nod to Dr. James McDonald, who covered this type of thing in a radio sermon a little while ago)