Coping with other’s unexpected behaviour – Part 2

Relationships, God created humanity with both the ability for them and the desire for them. However, we can all learn how to participate well in relationships as the Lord intends. Similarly, how to respond graciously when illtreated.

Although not easy, the believer’s response to difficult relationships need to be measured, which often goes against the grain of our natural desires. This may well become the fiercest battle our hearts will ever experience. So, when hurtful and unexpected pains are forced on you, what things can you do to help honour the Lord and go toward maintaining your own sanity?

First should always be prayer. 1 Peter 5:7, “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” We are speaking with a willing and sympathetic listener when we pray.

Choose and persist in humility. James 4:6, 10, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”  “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” It is OK to struggle and lean hard into Christ during times of severe pain, remembering that His humble strength will sustain you. Then, at the appropriate time, the Lord will lift you out of or above the trial.

Share your pain – do not isolate or bury the pain. When Paul was suffering under house arrest in Rome, he wrote and thanked the Philippian believers because “it was kind of you to share my trouble” (Philippians 4:14). Even though the circumstances were different, the principle remains, believers share in each other’s lives, including the difficult times. This is how we experience the kindness of Christ; it’s as we inject the Lord’s loving kindness at a human level into each other’s lives.

Calmly self-evaluate. This should not become self-mutilation, but an honest inner cleansing before the Lord. Jesus speaks to this difficult task in Matthew 7:4, “how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?” Look within before looking to criticise others.

Love with Christ’s love, and forgive, even though the other person may not want to be forgiven. Forgive for Christ’s sake. Ephesians 4:1-2, “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” This does not mean you go all soft and gooey in the head, but it does set you free to rationally work through the issues that need dealing with.

Be patient with yourself and with God as you work through the various layers of hurt and regret. Surrender to His timeline. Remember, we do all this, not simply to ease our pain, but to experience and expose the reality of Christ living through us during these times. We do this as a living testimony to the power of Jesus within. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

We all know that damaged relationships hurt. Surrender to the developing character of Jesus may not always remove pain, but it permits assurance, it opens up an inner place of respite, and provides peace with God to be layered over the pain. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…” (James 4:8).

When confronted by other’s unexpected and painful behaviour, may we respond differently to what comes naturally. May we respond in ways which draw attention to the Christ who lives within. May we be thankful for our Saviour who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), then walk faithful.

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