– I Peter 5:6-7
I read this passage today, and it is a message that resonates through the New Testament. James and Paul offer similar instructions in their letters. Why would God want this message repeated? Why would Peter, Paul, and James all offer the same advice? Short answer – Because we need to hear it over and over again because we don’t remember the importance of it when we are hurting.
For some time now I have been struggling with a situation. During this struggle that has been going on for a couple years I have had things said about me that were untrue. I have had people go out of their way to tear me down and set me up for failing. I have been ignored, dismissed, and doubted. As all of that has gone on, I have also been placed in a position where defending myself and bringing out the truth of the situation would have had some dire consequences. Not a place I like to be.
Another part of this that has added to the problem is that I really struggle with a sense of personal justice. I don’t need life to be fair for me. I am not so dense as to think that the world is fair, but I really have a streak of pride in me that almost demands that when I am right in something I must be heard. I am not willing to give up that fight. I’m not proud of it because I know it has brought me a lot of trouble over the years. It brings out anger and a bitterness that can ruin relationships and bring division. It has. I’ve had to make amends with some. There are others I may never be able to, but I will continue to try.
So, back to the story. As I have been struggling through this trial, I have had it pointed out to me that I am where I am in order for God to reveal something in my spirit that needs to grow. Not what I want to hear. I am more concerned with getting my reputation unsullied and things put in the order that they should be in. I am a little too busy complaining about my circumstances and trying to get people to see my side of things to be looking for some lesson God has for me. I know, very mature. I’m so proud of me too.
As time goes on I keep hearing this same advice. I keep getting told things like how I should pray for this person. Again, this is not something I want to hear. I’m hurting, and I am floundering, but I am supposed to pray for the people that are bringing me that much trouble? I am being maligned, but I am supposed to extend grace and mercy? Who do they think I am? Jesus?
Jesus. Whoa. That is exactly what He did.
Christ was mistreated, misrepresented, ignored, dismissed, maligned, persecuted, and more. He never railed against those who punished Him unjustly. He did nothing but extend mercy. He prayed for them. He spoke kindly. He humbled Himself in the hands of His persecutors and let them do with Him as they wished. Why? Because He lived to serve, and He was in submission to His Father.
I am a Christian. I am called to serve God. I am supposed to be living my life to bring honor to Christ for What He did in my life by trying to live like He did. If I was going to do that, I would have to start doing some things differently.
The first thing was to get humble and say that I am willing to serve. It might not be noticed. It often would feel unappreciated, and it would almost always mean that I would be doing far more than would be “fair”.
Next I had to start talking to God. I think that was the key. As I shared my struggle with God and read His Word I began to see how He really was interested in my life. He spoke to me through the passages I would read. I felt comfort after praying and sharing my frustrations, and my fears. He showed me that He loved me and He would carry me through it.
Then I just had to settle in and keep going and waiting on His timing. It’s hard to wait on God, but it’s harder if you are waiting on Him by yourself. You are better off waiting on God while clinging to His Word and His Spirit and His people. Having solid friends I could share my struggle with was so important. To hear them pray for me brought even more peace and strength. When I would read the Bible I would see others who struggled and were misunderstood, but they carried on with God and they made it through and were rewarded.
It was very interesting how this week, when I was least expecting it, I was brought into a conversation that changed things. It looks like the struggle may be coming to an end. I see there are still things that are going to require some hard work and a bit of humility as I work some things out, but I was lifted up and given praise and honor that I had resigned myself to thinking would never come. There is a reward that appears to be coming, and I am very thankful.
I think the part of this that means the most to me is not that I have been proven right. That may shock some of you who know me well. The thing that means the most is that when I finally gave in to doing the right thing instead of being right, the truth became evident, and things are looking up.
God cares for me. I know He does. He wants to lift us up, but too often we are so busy looking into ourselves for the solutions to our problems. That is what I was doing. If I were to do more or say this, or prove that, I would be vindicated. That would have just led to me believing I had fixed the problem. When I looked up, I began to see that God was reaching out to me and that He wanted to bring me to a better place, but I had to out my agenda aside for His.
I know we are all struggling with something. I’m not done with this yet, and I probably have at least a half dozen other things I need to get in order even before I go to bed tonight! I’m working on this, and I know God is there and He cares enough to help me through because I am His child, and He is the perfect Father and I know He delights in me.