Loving Those Difficult People
by Stephanie Olson, Co-founder Set Me Free Ministries
How many of you have a difficult person in your life? A person who seems to bring out the absolute worst in you. A person to whom you would love to say, “I’m not really like this around other people. It’s you who turns me into this monster!” A person who, at times, makes you question your ability to maintain that Christ-like “you” that you are striving for. Please tell me I’m not alone in this one!
Difficult people are … well, difficult. Now let me be clear. I’m not talking about abusive or dangerous people. I’m just referring to those people, whether family members, co-workers, church members, or neighbors, who can get under our skin. And yet, I am under the distinct impression that God uses these people in our lives to grow us, to change us, to refine us. Even if this person were plucked out of your life, another one (just like the previous) would pop right in. It’s one of the ways God does a work in us that can only be attributed to Christ.
It’s in those times when God asks you to drop your pride issues and simply love that person that can be challenging, to say the least. I often find myself asking, “God, why aren’t you dealing with this person? Why are you always dealing with me?” And then God gently reminds me, “It’s because I love you so much, and you are the one here with me right now.” Ugh!
David cried out in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” God allows difficult people to “bless us” to show us what is truly in our hearts. David Wilkerson wrote the following in one of his blogs:
God is going to keep testing you until you say, “I’ve got a spirit in me that’s got to go.” You will see no growth in Christ, no peace at home or on the job, until you can say, “You’re right, Lord—take it out!”
So, I will pray for my difficult people. I will love my difficult people. I will change my expectations of my difficult people. I will do what it takes to be Christ-like. And as 1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (NLT)
The humbling part is never easy, but when we recognize that we are loved by a God who wants us to be the best “us,” it a little easier to look inside of our hearts and say, “I’ve got a spirit in me that’s got to go.… You’re right, Lord—take it out!”