sign (2)The other day I was driving to my tent-making job, when I noticed a new sign on the highway. ..

It read, “Slow Down, High Crash Rate”. How ironic that something being used as a means of warning, safety, and prevention could only exist because of a significant degree of pain, suffering, and death that had occurred previously. Those signs are never placed on the highway until history has proven they are justified, and by that time many people have already suffered or died as a result.

This got me thinking about the concept of “painful wisdom”. Sometimes we learn wisdom because of some pain we have experienced as a result of the consequences of our unwise conduct. But there are other times when we get to learn wisdom, because of the pain that someone else has experienced before us.

If I choose to slow down, be more aware, and drive carefully after reading that sign on the highway, I spare myself a lot of pain because of the pain that someone else experienced. If I choose to ignore it, I can imagine the voices of grieving people who suffered the loss of a loved one saying, “don’t make that choice, slow down, you are going to come to harm!”

In Proverbs 12:15 we read…The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.

Scripture is full of warnings, instruction, and counsel, and as a pastor I often find myself giving such admonitions in response to situations people get themselves in. What grieves me more than anything else, is when you see someone taking a certain road in life, that you know has caused others who took a similar road to suffer – nevertheless, the person chooses to do what is right in their own eyes.

In these situations the cry of my heart, and of others who love this person in truth is, “Slow down, high crash rate!”. Or in other words, “Don’t make that choice, slow down, think, pray, back up, walk very carefully!”

So next time you are challenged through the Word of God, or through a brother or sister who cares enough about you to share the Word of God in regard to your situation – take the time to listen, and you may save yourself some pain.

Or the next time you are tempted not to say something you really should, to a brother or sister about to make a very unwise choice – remember you might be the only “warning sign” they come across that could prevent them from much suffering.

We can learn much the mistakes of others, if we respond to counsel with humility. We can’t take away their pain, but we can prevent further unnecessary pain in our lives and in the lives of others.

That is the blessing of “painful wisdom”.

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