Happy May 1st!! I’m so thankful that God built “fresh starts” into the rhythms of our world. Whether it’s a new morning, a new year, or a changing season, it’s good to begin again with a clean slate. Glad to be stepping into the next month!
Here’s a question for you that I think I already know the answer to.
Have you ever wished for something to be taken out of your life? It could be a person or a situation, any thing that makes your life more difficult.
I was dealing with this last week. One morning I thought to myself, “If I just didn’t have to deal with this person any more, things would be so much better.” I was tired of interacting with someone I had a hard time getting along with.
Then this question popped into my mind. “Why do you not want to deal with this person any more?” The answer came immediately – because it would make my life easier.
And then I knew what the root of the problem was. It wasn’t so much about that person as it was about my selfishness.
There was no thought that morning for the other person. I hadn’t looked at him/her through the lens of how God might be able to use me in their life. Nor did I consider what God might be trying to do in my life through them. It was all about making life easier for myself by not having to deal with the conflict that person inevitably brings along with them.
This struggle may not always center on a particular person. It might be a situation that’s hard to deal with, like an illness, a failed relationship, a job loss, or some type of persecution.
This shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus said in John 16:33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation…”
I think of Paul’s thorn in the flesh mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12. Surely his life would have been easier if God answered His prayer to take the thorn away, but God didn’t. God had a purpose in allowing it to continue in Paul’s life.
So how can I think differently about this difficult person? Maybe God has this person in my life so I can be a testimony and a witness to them. Perhaps as they see the joy and peace I have through Christ, they’ll want the same for themselves. I have no idea how He’s working in their life, but maybe I can be just a small part of that.
And how about what God’s doing in my life through that person? I have my doubts that he/she knows or cares how they’re impacting me. So what is God trying to teach me about myself?
Obviously He’s already used them to remind me again of how selfish I am. Life is not all about how I can get by with the least amount of trouble or irritation. No, those difficult people and hard days are actually a big part of maturing me in my faith.
Is God growing my patience, teaching me self-control? Is He having me deal with this person because He knows that I’m going to be able to use this situation to help somebody else later on?
I’m reminded of the illustration of a weaver creating a beautiful tapestry. All I can see from my perspective here today are the tangled threads underneath the tapestry. It’s not attractive, looks mostly like a tangled mess.
But God sees it from the top side, a work in progress. He’s weaving the pattern that will produce the beautiful finished product. And parts of my life – like that person I’d rather not deal with – don’t make sense to me. Yet it’s all orchestrated by Him as part of His master plan.
I like this wording of 2 Corinthians 4:17. “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” When I consider eternity, this person or circumstance will just be a blip in the story of my life.
I don’t know if you’re dealing with a difficult person or a troublesome situation today. In our humanity, we don’t want to face either because it’s painful, exhausting, and hard.
But let’s try to look beyond how it makes us feel. Let’s move past our selfishness, and trust God’s purpose in it. Whether I can see it or not, God wants to use that person or that situation to grow me into being more like Him. He can also turn it into a blessing and use it to encourage others.
Let’s trust God for the grace to allow Him to accomplish His purpose through it.