A woman at church overheard me say under my breath, “God grant me patience” as I rolled my eyes and saw my kids were getting into. She quickly corrected me and said, “Never pray for patience or the Lord will give you lots of opportunities to work on it!” I tend to believe her and now I have another situation that I think the Lord may be giving me to work on. Stupid people. Exasperating people. Annoying people. Frustrating people. In general, People! There are people in my life who I find very difficult to work with and yet, the Lord keeps putting them in my path. (OK, well some are family, so it makes sense that I’d have them in my life, but others seem rather random.) I have asked God countless times why I have problems dealing with these people and it seems the more I ask, the more he grants me the opportunity to work on my problem-solving skills. This concept doesn’t appear to be a new idea.
Stepping Heavenward by Mrs. E. Prentiss was published in 1869 and the lead character, Katherine, in this book struggles as I do. She asked her older, wiser, friend Mrs. Campbell what she would do about it. Mrs. Campbell’s response gives us all something to ponder. “If I were living with them and they made me unhappy, I would ask God to relieve me of this trial if He thought it best. If He did not think it best, I would then try to find out the reason. He might have two reasons. One would be the good they might do me. the other, the good I might do them.”
Interesting perspective. The next time you are faced with a person that you find uncongenial or one who misunderstands you, think about what good they might be for you or what good you might be for them. It definitely sounds like a challenge to consider. And, our character in the book struggled as well and asked: “what if neither party can be of the least use to the other?”
Wise Mrs. Campbell explains that our friend, Katherine may be missing the point. She claims that disagreeable people do us good by allowing us to practice self-denial and self-control that their mere presence demands.
There you have it. Even if we think we aren’t doing well getting along with others and even if others bother us and cause us grief, we can applaud ourselves for simply staying in control and not killing them! Practice self-denial and self-control and we will learn to live in peace with all. And, the sooner we can master it, the less we will be given the opportunity to practice it!
8 Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. — Titus 1:8