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Sometimes the Pain Helps
by Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT
When I was a small child, the medical profession worked differently in consideration of common sicknesses. In the early seventies, our regular physician would give a shot of antibiotics for just about any disease one could think of—even trivial sicknesses. Nowadays, doctors are reserved about giving antibiotics; especially in cases where they are deemed ineffective.

The doctor we frequented when I was a child would give shots to those wrestling with various sicknesses. When my parents took me to see him, I knew that a shot in the gluteus maximus was awaiting the end of the visit. Still, the pronouncement of my pain at the lips of the doctor prescribing the cure was occasion for tears and crying out in anticipation of the prick and the burning sensation of an injection.

Parenthood is an area where one must be brutally honest with children. We do children no favors by lying to them or sheltering them from the truth. I have told my sons, “I would never tell you the truth in a painful kind of way, but I would tell you a painful truth to help you avoid a disastrous set of consequences.” They seem to have understood my words, and the truth has sometimes been painful for them to hear.

Serving as a proclaimer of God’s word works in a similar manner. It is a matter of speaking the truth regardless of what one’s audience favors or disapproves of in the setting or culture. Paul says this very thing in 2 Timothy 4:2-5. “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

Sometimes the most upsetting sermon offered in truth and in love is the very one we most need to hear. If you are offended because someone loved you enough to tell you the truth, even at detriment to the friendship you have with them, you need to ask yourself about the nature of your angst.

Evidently, there were people in Galatia who felt this way about Paul because he corrected the false teachings about combining elements of Moses’ law with Christianity. Despite his efforts people were angry with him. Galatians 4:16 says, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Verses preceding this one indicate that the brethren at Galatian would have, at one time, done anything to help the beloved Apostle (Galatians 4:13-15). Sadly, that seems to have changed. In this turn of events, many evangelists, teachers, and elders can relate. People who were once friends are separated by the truthful proclamation of God’s word.

It is easy to proclaim lies and share smooth words encased in honey. Isaiah says, in Isaiah 30:9-11, “That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the LORD; Who say to the seers, "Do not see," And to the prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, Turn aside from the path, Cause the Holy One of Israel To cease from before us." While this is an Old Testament