In every one of our lives there are people who mess with our minds and hearts. Believe it or not, God put them there. They’re there for our benefit.
This is no crazy talk. It can be backed up biblically via examples from Joseph to Jesus. Although the Apostle Paul talked about his “thorn in the flesh,” that “messenger of Satan” that was sent to buffet him (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), he too knew full well that the truth is God allows these people and challenging situations in our lives for our betterment.
This is Wonderful News
We are not at all very apt at seeing the silver lining to our very near and resplendently dark thunder clouds, are we?
We will most usually struggle to see the ‘good news’ in people who’ve set their hearts and minds against us, to expose or depose us. But, if it wasn’t for these people we wouldn’t have the opportunities to meet the challenges that God knows we can meet. We’d miss vital growth junctures that are part of our God-willed destiny. We can see it as God forming us via eternal discipline.
The writer of Hebrews hit on this very point:
“No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
~Hebrews 12:11 (NLT).
The point is we have to allow ourselves to be trained in this way. It comes natural to no one.
An Exercise in Execution
We cannot get better at spiritual practice without applying it. We need to get our minds and hearts involved in the practice of new ways of living if we’re to master them.
Perhaps this exercise in question—seeing a nemesis as someone sent from the very hand of God—is best accomplished in spending some time reflecting over the role one of these people has played, and is indeed playing in our lives perhaps now.
This is the practice, it is hoped, toward spiritual enlightenment whereby God might tip into us some level of his own holy revelation. We might consequently begin to see the overall purpose of this evil against us in conforming from it, goodness.
If someone is bullying us our opportunity is to learn how to respond in assertiveness, and not match their fire with our own aggression, or submissive behaviour.
If another person has betrayed our trust our opportunity is to practice forgiveness, and learn classic lessons about trust, as well as learning some sense of empathy for why there was a betrayal in the first place.
If we’ve been disappointed by a lack of opportunity we’re now given the opportunity to work through the present issues and develop resilience and patience. It’s also an opportunity to reassess goals.
There is always a silver lining and we’re blessed to seek vision of it.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.