There is a lot going on in the world these days, and much of it is not good. More often than not, when bad things happen and we are grasping for ways to make sense of them, our emotions surge to the forefront. Before we know it, we may respond in ways that provide a temporary emotional release, but from a spiritual perspective, are neither wise nor God-honoring.
So what is to be our response, as followers of Christ, when life gets hard? When we are persecuted, mistreated, or simply feel disheartened by what is going on in the world today?
Remember the sovereignty of God, and choose to not respond from a place of fear. Bear in mind that just because the Lord knows all things doesn’t mean that He approves of everything that happens (or that His heart isn’t grieved, as ours are, too).
Love and pray for those who mistreat us (or those about whom we care). Put another way – and to paraphrase the tail end of Romans 12 – “overcome evil with good.” In fact, Jesus explains it best in this excerpt from Matthew 5:
If we remember that the Lord is ultimately in control of all things, then we can trust Him enough to
- surrender our emotions;
- show love to those who hurt us – even though it is hard; and
- pray for those who mistreat us – even when we don’t want to do it,
because we know and sincerely believe that His plan and His ways are so much better than our short-sighted (and emotionally-charged) ones.
The Lord never says that His way is easy – believe me, it’s not! – but it’s always right. So the next time someone gives you the short shrift, remember this passage from Matthew 5 and choose to respond in an altogether different, Spirit-filled way. A way that honors God, even when our hearts are breaking. After all, Jesus said it, so It must be right: Love your enemies (not merely your neighbors), and pray for those who persecute you.
Easier said than done, though. What will your response be when hard times (inevitably) strike?
Dear Lord, thank You for this clear prescription about how You want us to respond when we are mistreated, persecuted, or otherwise maligned by those around us. In my own strength, I am powerless to carry this out, so the only way that I can do this is if You give me the supernatural ability to show love to and pray for those who (sometimes intentionally) hurt me.
I also ask for Your wisdom in this. Help me – and anyone else who may be reading this – to remember that our emotions need time to heal, and that a loss of any kind – death, a tragic event, job loss, etc. – naturally precipates a grieving process that must be worked through. As You know, every person grieves differently; give us the discernment and wisdom needed so that we know when it is appropriate to fully express what we are feeling, and when we – and others – are best served by keeping our strong emotions to ourselves (or sharing them with trusted friends, counselors, etc.).
Lord Jesus, I ask You to unleash a movement of Your Spirit – in me and others – so that we are empowered to overcome evil with good. After all, this is Your mandate (though hard and nearly impossible) for us. We can’t do it without You! In Your name I pray, Amen.