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The pain of difficult people

The bottom line of yesterday’s blog post is that God can’t trust us with his dreams until he can trust us with pain (particularly the pain that difficult people inflict). My friend John was God’s instrument in my life.  He disagreed with me in the most obnoxious way.  He was as sanc…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

The bottom line of yesterday’s blog post is that God can’t trust us with his dreams until he can trust us with pain (particularly the pain that difficult people inflict).

My friend John was God’s instrument in my life.  He disagreed with me in the most obnoxious way.  He
was as sanctimonious as he was intelligent and when he would disagree
with me, he’d insert my name in his sentences like some kind of
punctuation mark: “So odd that you’d think that, Seth.”  He’d say,
“Because that’s not very well thought-out and really shows a lack of
scholarship.  Were you having a bad day, or are you always a dilettante,
Seth?”

And something inside me would say, “Don’t blow him off.  He may
sound obtuse, but there’s gold in there if you’ll keep digging.”  I determined to be more open to the pain that came my way through John on the off
chance it was God trying to loosen my grip on dreams he never gave me in
the first place.
 

But at various times, thinking about John, it was miserable as I had to wrestle with a low grade level of pain that might be better classified as “annoying,” like a pebble in your shoe.  Irritating people are that way.  People who don’t really have the power to hurt you because you don’t trust them, but for some reason (maybe they just weren’t blessed with people skills) they get under your skin.

 
The reality is, we’re all Pharisees lined up with accusations and stones we’re waiting to throw. On another day, I’ll be the pebble in somebody else’s shoe. Knowing that, I need to look beyond the person who is God’s tool, and try to see the reason that God put them in my life.
 
We can waste a lot of life tussling with difficult people who feel like a low grade headache throbbing away. 
 
If you look for what’s really going on behind them, you’ll sense a shepherd whose final prayers were for the unity of his flock, whose first sermon was about forgiving difficult people, a Lord who loves you so much, he’s not going to make his narrow road any broader for you.

Comments (8)

  • Seth I am glad you continued the discussion on this topic so vital to diving deep into what the Gospel is all about. There is no hope without suffering and there cannot be growth in the absence of stretching relationships. A song lyric recently had the line “God bless the broken road that leads me back to you”. That sounds Biblical to me. Appreciate you.

  • This is worth framing,

    “If you look for what’s really going on behind them, you’ll sense a shepherd whose final prayers were for the unity of his flock, whose first sermon was about forgiving difficult people, a Lord who loves you so much, he’s not going to make his narrow road any broader for you.”

    Thank you Seth!

  • Hey Butch: speaking of being stretched…a rubber band serves little purpose in its limp state, until it is stretched!

  • The older I get, the more I need a simple bottom-line. And that question is: “How do I love this person in the way God knows he/she needs to be loved?” And in that question, my pride and all its fruit is confronted. Who do I think I am? As you say, Seth…God is doing a work in me. And love is the greatest of all. I know my heart has gotten hard when I don’t care and just want them to go away (going thru that now), so God uses that person to confront the condition of my heart. So what’s worse? That person’s problem or my heart condition? Pretty sobering…pretty humbling.

  • Boy I wish I had had this advice and direction when I was younger – very humbling.

    I vow to teach my children this lesson as not to repeat my mistakes.

  • Sometimes we are better served with that brash in your face rebuke rather than the white washed version that we get from our brethren with so called people skills.I dont always get what the LORD is saying when it comes from someone whos worried about offending me.Ive also heard it said GOD uses the least painful method to get our attention!!!

  • My friend Gill had a major problem with a woman she simply couldn’t stand. She could find nothing to like about her. She was annoying and irritating to the extreme.

    One day God said to Gill “I want you to pray for her.” Gill gritted her teeth and tried and said “Lord I just can’t think of anything I can honestly say!” God said to her “you can thank Me that I love her.”

    She did that. And only that for a long time. Eventually over time she began to feel differently about the annoying woman and although the annoying one never changed, Gill did. And that was the point.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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