People can be so aggravating! Last week I spent four whole days being mad at an acquaintance for a selfish remark. I tried to keep my cool, but inside I was definitely stewing. Maybe it's just me, revealing my immaturity, but I'm sure we all have people in our lives we can't avoid but who are very difficult to be with. In fact, many of us are probably that person to someone else. The question is, how do we deal with these people, be it co-workers, fellow students, church members or relatives, in a godly manner?
When Moses was asked to lead the Israelites through the Sinai desert, most of his people would have fallen under the "difficult" category. Both God and Moses called them "stiff-necked" on several occasions. This means they were stubborn, set in their ways, unwilling to change, disobedient, proud and unable to see the folly of their own ways. Sound familiar? How then was Moses able to guide them for forty years without going nuts?
Moses knew he needed to focus on God rather than on the shortcomings of others, so he asked God, "Please show me your glory." (Exodus 33:18) God replied, "I will make my goodness pass before you." (Exodus 33:19) God's glory is seen in his character, and his goodness is defined by the following passage: "Then God passed before him and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,...'" (Exodus 34: 6+7a)
During this time of worship, God did much more for Moses than merely help him redirect his focus. Not only was Moses then able to overlook distressing behavioral patterns in his people, when he came down from the mountain his face shone. He was reflecting God's glory to the stiff-necked people.
When we see God's glory, we will reflect His goodness by becoming merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. We will be able to forgive the stiff-necked people in our lives.
So after spending four days praying for this particular person to change, for my situation to be different, or for God to give me strength to deal with this acquaintance in a loving manner, I started praying instead for God to show me His glory. God is so faithful. That same day it suddenly felt easy to forgive and God's peace once again reigned in my heart.
So, whenever you find it hard to forgive, whenever you are tempted to look at circumstances, whenever you feel like you have nothing left to give, whenever you feel just plain aggravated, don't stay mad for days like I did. Run to God and ask him: "Please, show me your glory."
He who calls you is faithful. (1 Thess. 5:24)