Written about 2007, from Edified—not a current happening
“Your face, O Lord, I seek.” Psalm 27:8
As I set the phone down I was shaking and my heart was pounding. That had been one of the most difficult conversations in my life. I felt ripped up, abused, stomped on and belittled. The anger vented by the other party had been of hurricane force in my emotions and I had to get up and walk around to try and relieve the tension. And all this over a little misunderstanding! The other person, a mission leader from another group, felt betrayed and foolish because I had misunderstood him; unfortunately I had, in the end, also replied in anger to his charges.
With trembling hands I opened my Bible to Psalm 37, my refuge in times of conflict, especially verses 1-3: “Fret not yourself because of evil doers, neither be envious of workers of iniquity, for they shall be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb” [KJV]. Good perspective on how God will deal with things. I can trust Him to work them out. “Trust in the Lord and do good, so shall you dwell in the land and be fed. Delight yourself also in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
Great words; healing words; encouraging words bringing me light in darkness. The question was: how can I now do good to this man? It did not help that I got a follow up email from him that evening, full of anger, accusations, demands and threats. I never wanted to see or hear from him again; I wanted to tell everyone what a terrible person he was; I wanted to hurt him like he hurt me!
But the Holy Spirit kept bringing Psalm 37 to mind, prompting me to delight in God, to do good, to take the low road. So, beginning with forgiving the man in my heart as I have been forgiven, and after much prayer for wisdom, I wrote a short email expressing my distress at the way things had gone, and apologizing for my impatience and for interrupting him in our phone conversation. It was hard to write that when it seemed to me mostly his doing, but I did have a part and the Spirit led me to take responsibility.
This event was a challenge to the truth I often repeat: “Knowing Jesus is enough for joy!” And, like Habakkuk, I chose to rejoice in my God.
It took two days for the vibrations in my being to settle down, and I felt no joy, just hurt. But beyond what I felt was the Truth that God’s joy was waiting for me at the end of the tunnel of obedience, palpable through faith.
A couple of days later the response came from the fellow; I saw it when getting email in the morning, but didn’t open it, not wanting to ruin my day with more anger and accusation. I should have read it, for it was a humble admission of his being the cause of the conflict, asking forgiveness and wanting a new start! It was amazing! It showed again the power of prayer and following God’s principles, no matter how illogical they may seem.
The man also humbly asked if there was anything else he should deal with. It was at that point where I began to realize one of the reasons God had allowed this painful happening into my life. This man had responsibility for a good number of workers in his organization; if he poured out such anger on me when I inadvertently didn’t meet his expectations in a small matter, what will he do to his “sheep” when they disappoint him? Now I could help him see and deal with his anger before he hurts others.
I, too, have struggled with the same sin of unjustified angry responses, and am learning that it usually stems from failure to be a “grace receiver.” When I am trying to earn significance or security by performance or to get it from others’ opinions, I am not receiving grace from God, so I cannot be a “grace giver.” I demand performance from others as I do from myself. And when they fail, they feel my wrath.
However, when I begin to understand how much I have been forgiven, and how much I am unconditionally accepted by God, then I can pass on this grace to those around me no matter how they act.
Prayer: “Lord, I am in myself so weak and fragile. Help me to rest in the shadow of your Almightiness, to trust you in each storm that comes into my life, to flee to your Word, to praise you and obey so you may work freely, bringing the good fruit you desire. Amen.”