Is there a person in your life who loves to stir the pot? Do you know someone who (you are certain) lies awake at night dreaming up new ways to ruffle your feathers and rock your boat?
Maybe you have a friend or family member that approaches every topic of conversation – online or off – like a heat-seeking missile?
If so, be thankful for them, for they are a grace from God.
Through our inner responses to the outward
drama, provocation, actions of others, we are given a portal into our own hearts. What is it that we see there?
Often, I am utterly alarmed. How did my inner life deteriorate so quickly? Where did that anger come from? Who knew my heart was so defensive; so heavily guarded; so unwilling to be questioned? Who knew that I would want so badly to strike back?
God knows. And so he sends his grace in the unexpected form of contrary (to us) people. “Why are you so offended by this?” God says. “Can’t you see that I am working all things for your good and theirs? Can you be thankful for this particular relationship? Can you be thankful for them?”
A favorite lie of our enemy is to suggest that ‘certain other people’ are our trouble. “That person is your nemesis” he says. “Clearly, that family member is a thorn in your side. Obviously, that friend has major issues….”
And we are fools if we think that our enemy doesn’t also whisper these same malicious lies about us. He reinforces to others that we are their underlying problem. Us! Imagine!?! He suggests that we are the obstinate obstacles in their otherwise smooth and sunny road! We are the ones who are contrary to their happiness and well-being.
Our enemy lies, lies, lies…
‘Certain other people’ are not our trouble. It is what’s lodged in every human heart — the impulse to rule over others; to seek our own kind; be continually and completely accommodated; to expect that others would always pour out their lives for us; break themselves open for us — that leads to our misery.
Can we give thanks for the ‘certain other people’ that God puts in our lives to show us the current state of our souls? Might we see it as a grace; one that exposes our own self-righteousness and calls us to repentance?
Could this grace be a wake-up call to arms – not against ‘certain other people’ – but against the real enemy who would devour us all?
Only with God’s help can we resist our natural impulse to put someone right back in their place.
He is able.
Only with God’s help can we willingly restrain our natural instincts, and reshape our base responses.
He is willing.
Only with God’s help can we see the instigators, provocateurs, antagonists, pot-stirrers, social grenade-launchers, drama-queens, and all those who rub us the wrong way in this life, as agents of God’s grace.
Only with God’s help can we be agents of grace.
Peace to you and yours this Thanksgiving,