I’ve struggled with some relationships in my life. I’m sure you have too. But there have been many times I’m paralyzed by fear in regards to those relationships. I worry that I’m being misunderstood. Or I worry about slander and my reputation. Or I worry about simply not being liked. I pray. I forgive. I wrestle. I lay things down. I take them back again.
Two things have helped me navigate this strange journey:
- The Lord reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12, where Paul talks about the thorn in the flesh. The thorn is allowed by God to keep him humble, to prevent him from exalting himself. Therefore, the thorn is something to thank God for. Sure, we can plea that God take away that difficult relationship, but sometimes He chooses not to take it away. And He uses it to keep us from exalting ourselves. So I’m learning to smile and thank God for the thorns. In that, I remember this amazing quote I found in Streams in the Desert: “My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns. I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; Teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain; Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant.”
- God highlighted/spotlighted this verse next. Funny how I hadn’t seen it in all these years, but how now it takes on beautiful meaning: “Now we pray to God that you do no wrong, not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.” 2 Corinthians 13:7-8 The verse reminds me that my task is to pray for those I have difficulty with–that they would do what is right, not so it makes me look better or vindicates me, but so that they may know and do the truth. That takes so much pressure off me. I simply pray for them to do what’s right. And if they don’t? Then I entrust my reputation to Him. He can hold it well.
I’m curious what you’ve learned from Jesus in the midst of difficult relationships…