A Ministry Filled with Frustration
It was almost a decade ago. I was fresh in ministry and had this perfect plan of what it was going to be like. That soon crumbled.
I remember there was this one teenager who just knew how to push my bottoms. On top of that, the parents were helicopter parents who monitored every move I made. I was under a microscope.
I was discouraged and was so fed up. I even typed out my resignation letter and was ready to quit. Amid my desperation where I felt I had no way of escape from this horror of ministry. I finally decided to seriously look in the Bible for help. As I was spending time in the Word, I began to see that Jesus had a much worse scenario and treated the crisis far better than I was.
As I looked at my wrist, I had this bracelet that someone gave me, and it was W.W.J.D. Yes, “What Would Jesus Do?”
As I began to look into Scripture, I knew I had to deal better than the way I have been dealing with the situation and these people who caused such grief in my life.
Here are five ways Jesus had dealt with people who caused grief in his life.
1. “Love Your Enemies” (Luke 6:27)
I remember thinking, “That sounds nice, but, Nah, not feeling it”
I soon realized; that Christian life is not a feeling-based religion, but a faith-based relationship. Hating your enemies is what comes naturally based on your emotions. Loving your enemies is only possible with God’s divine help.
Jesus also speaks of the new commandment to, “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 13:34).
Unless we truly believe and embrace God’s love, Christians are not able to love one another. God’s grace enables fallen sinners the ability by “the Helper” with the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) working in and through one’s life.
2. “Turn Your Other Cheek” (Matt 5:39)
“No way! An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” that is what my flesh said. I wanted them to be as miserable as I was! My heart wanted justice to roll down like a river and vengeance to be served. I wanted to take control of the situation and strike down lighting as the judgment ruler.
However, there is something about turning the cheek. There is something about godly forbearance in the faithful endurance of the Christian walk.
This is the essence of the Christian life! To be “crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20). Jesus Christ himself said, “lay down our lives” meaning, taking up the cross and following him (Matt 16:24).
A true Christ-centered approach allows believers to be set free from the bondage of revenge in wrongdoing to others.
For Christ, himself turned his cheek, by taking the wrath of God upon the cross for wicked sinful people who grant eternal forgiveness in His own Son (John 3:36; Rom 1:18).
3. “Bless Those Who Curse You” (Matt 5:44)
I wanted to give the family the silent treatment. I wanted to cause them grief by ignoring all their text messages. Or even worse, I wanted to curse them out and blow up in their faces!
But it was better to kill the person with kindness.
Showing genuine respect for those who cause you grief is the right act of obedience unto the LORD.
Instead of cursing them out, “pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 3:34).
Blessing those who curse you is so much more than mere emotions. An act of obedience is love in expression and redirects the trajectory of the relationship.
4. “Forgive Others as Christ Forgave You” (Eph 4:32)
Forgiveness is hard, isn’t it? Forgiving your enemy perhaps is one of the greatest marks of Christian maturity.
Can you truly forgive the person for what he/she has done?
Dragging the past only weights your soul and drags you into angry bitterness. The reality is that “the past is past” and cannot be changed.
Being mad and filled with hatred only stirs the mind and eats you from within. Anger does not change the situation for the better. Matter of fact, anger makes the relationship toxic and makes it even worse.
5. “Do Good to Those Who Hate You” (Luke 6:27)
What? Counter the hate with good? Wouldn’t that encourage the person to take more advantage of me and will cost my life?
Jesus served even those who hated Him so completely that He allowed them to hang Him on a cross. Try to serve someone who hates you to the point that they will murder you. There’s nothing more radical than laying your life down for the sake of someone else.
– If you want to be distinct, love someone who disdains you.
– If you want to be extraordinary, serve someone who discourages you.
– If you want to be radical, pray with someone who despises you.
In this context, radical means “Jesus with flesh on” (John 1:14) so you can give a word, a look, a touch in the name of Jesus
God’s Exponential Growth Through Trials
Today, if you face any sort of difficulty with people, the world will say to take the highway. I believe Christians are called to take the higher way.
Yes, the higher way is much more difficult than the old saying, “My way or the highway” mentality. But Christians in a world filled with enmity and strife, are called to unity and love. I believe loving our enemy is the only way out of difficult relationships.
Why must we treat and love those who mistreat and cause grief in our lives? Because God’s Word tells us so. Another reason is that God is love and He has loved all of us.
I’m glad I didn’t leave. God had a much better plan. I just thought I knew better. I wanted to be the author of my life and choose my destiny for the next chapter of life. God had a different plan, which was a good plan (Rom 8:28).
It was tough; therefore, I was ready to leave. But God knew I needed to stay in those times to learn the difficult lesson. Otherwise, I would have never learned the importance of faithful endurance and simply ran away. I mean, who likes hardship and trials?
But that is what James writes to remind the believers. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (Jam 1:2-3).
We all need faithful endurance in ministry. Christ-centered perseverance will only be completed in His timing in Christ Jesus (Phil 1:7).