28 There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell. 29 But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath. Deuteronomy 4:28-31 (NIV)
Moses is talking to the Israelites before they are about to enter the Promised Land. He is giving them a reminder to follow God or there will be consequences. He also shares, in a prophetic way, that Israel will forget God and turn to another idol/god worship. Yet, he also shares the love God has for His people. He calls them to come back to the Lord from wherever they are because of God’s faithfulness and mercy. He is saying we will go through distressing times because of our choices to follow our wants and desires. Moses knew the rebellious side of the Israelites and called them to remember the God who had brought them this far.
I know I have gone off and done things that were terrible decisions and I have experienced regret and distress from them. It is easy to lay there and be defeated and try to do whatever we can to get out of the mess in which we find ourselves. Yet, in the distress, we need to seek the one who can save us and who has been with us through it all. Sometimes we need to go through trials and distress in order to learn not to do something and gain wisdom. God knows we will make mistakes and God can redeem us, yet there are consequences that we need to face. In those times, we need to seek God and let Him guide and bring us through the trial and distress to see His Power to save and His loving kindness. It says in Deuteronomy 4:8 “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” We may need to learn discipline, but we will also come to know His love and promises through it. So, when I’m in distress:
- I need to seek Him first. I know that there are consequences to sin and wrong choices, but I need to come to God so I can know His mercy and love. If I seek the world first, I will be doing the very thing God does not want us to do, which is to look to our past and complain and point the blame. The Israelites went through a 40-year journey in which many suffered because they looked not to God’s provision and promise rather what they had left behind in the past. Seeking Him brings us to a point where God can shape and change me through the discipline, otherwise, I will be destroyed by it.
- Don’t let my distress lead to sin. It is easy to try to find ways to temporarily satisfy my feelings of distress, however, God wants us to be faithful to Him and remember His promises. If we are only looking for a bandage or quick-fix, we tend to turn to things that cannot satisfy and drives us deeper into distress or sin. The Israelites did the same thing when they lack something and complained to God because of the terrible treatment they had.
Jesus, you have heard my prayers in my distress and have come to rescue me. I choose to seek You first in those times of worry and distress and also choose to obey your word. I know I am a worry-er and tend to get stressed about things. I choose to look to you and not the stressor and follow Your Word when tempted to disobey. I love you and ask for the strength to follow through. Thank you for your Love and your covenant. In your Name, Jesus! Amen!