Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets. 2 Corinthians 7:10 (TM)
As I look back on the path I’ve followed thus far in life’s journey, I can see both of the examples Paul provides in response to distress. I can see times when life’s distresses drove me down a path towards God. In those cases, I depended on God to provide the patience and perseverance I needed to traverse that difficult stretch. My faith grew. When all was said and done I ended up in a better place.
Other times I can see how life’s distresses caused me to take a path away from God. Call it pride, call it anger, or call it plain foolishness. In each case, it was willful disobedience on my part. I was a petulant child refusing to heed his parent’s warning. "I don’t care what you think, Father," I said in my heart. "You may want me to take the path on the right, but I’m going to take this path on the left. Damn the consequences. It’s the path I want to take and I’m taking it!"
Do I regret my numerous willfully disobedient choices? Of course, I do. Taking many a selfish and disobedient path has yielded its share of lamentable consequences and shameful memories. Once I found my way back to the straight and narrow path, it eventually provided a host of valuable lessons. The scars I still have from taking the wrong path are a constant reminder not to do it again. As time goes on, I’d like to think I’m less likely to take the wrong path.
Life’s road will lead us down avenues of distress. It’s unavoidable. What is avoidable is the consequences of choosing to take the wrong side of the street.