My dad was a pastor. Every time our family moved to a new assignment, people would warn him of “the troublemakers.” You know […]
Published on: 03-01-2019
My dad was a pastor. Every time our family moved to a new assignment, people would warn him of “the troublemakers.” You know about troublemakers—the ones who give constant grief on committees, in church, or at work.
Dad would pay special attention to the cranky, irritable, griping ones. He’d search for the good things in each one and affirm each person for their strengths. Dad would win over the “troublemakers,” and very often they became his strongest supporters. They would do almost anything for him. Sometimes Dad would get upset with people, but he was always quick to humble himself and apologize.
When he and Mom were called to a new conference, the troublemakers would weep over his departure. Years later, when I met some of those members, they talked fondly about my dad, and how he had blessed their lives.
How do we handle those who seem to undermine us or criticize us? How do we react to angry looks, harsh words, and un-Christlike behavior? You may not believe it if you’re feeling attacked right now, but prayer works. Pray—and keep praying. Tell God how you feel; pour out to Him how badly it hurts. Ask Him to change your heart, to help you see that person the way He does.
One morning during my worship I complained to God about a person while attempting to read my Bible. But I couldn’t seem to concentrate. Frustrated, I gave up reading and began sharing openly with God. Just then I read a verse, and it sounded as if God was speaking straight to my heart, asking me to pray prayers of blessing for a specific person. He wanted me to praise and thank Him for them.
“No way! I don’t want that individual to be blessed. I don’t want that person to look better than I do spiritually. I am not thankful for them.”
I eventually gave up and decided to pray for that person, because I knew it was God’s desire. In my prayers I asked God to bless that person spiritually and emotionally. I praised and thanked God for them, even though I didn’t feel like it. Then something strange happened. My hurt feelings disappeared. God filled my heart with compassion and love. It wasn’t easy. But it was liberating and it brought heavenly joy. I don’t know why I drag my feet in doing what God wants me to do when I know He is so amazing!
What God Taught Me
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Humble yourself before the Lord. Pray, “Lord, help me understand what Jesus went through for me when He was crucified. Change me, so that I can ask You to forgive the one hurting me” (see Jer. 17:9).
Thank God for taking away your hurt feelings. You may not feel like the pain is gone, but thank Him ahead of time for healing your heart. God has amazing ways to dissolve our hurt.
Pray for ways to love others. Encourage them. Pray to see them through God’s heart. Try to see how hard or frustrating life must be for them.
Praise and thank God that He has put them in your life. It really helps.
We know the reality of the great controversy. God desperately needs people who are willing to die to themselves and allow Him to mold their hearts to be like His. It’s time that we let Jesus love others—even our enemies—through us!
This article was originally published in The Journal: A Resource for Ministry Spouses, third quarter 2014.