Bible Society of South Africa
Benescke Janse van Rensburg

Are you grateful? – Day 17

Thankful for the difficult people in our lives

Bible text(s)

23Examine me, O God, and know my mind;

test me, and discover my thoughts.

24Find out if there is any evil in me

and guide me in the everlasting way.

Psalms 139:23-24GNBOpen in Bible reader

3Who has the right to go up the LORD's hill?

Who may enter his holy Temple?

4Those who are pure in act and in thought,

who do not worship idols

or make false promises.

Psalms 24:3-4GNBOpen in Bible reader

3We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, 4endurance brings God's approval, and his approval creates hope. 5This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us.

Romans 5:3-5GNBOpen in Bible reader

Think for a moment about someone who really makes life difficult for you. Is it your spouse? A grumpy colleague or manager at work? A toxic mother-in-law? A building contractor who did not keep his promises? Your rebellious teenager? Or maybe the slow or irresponsible motorist who cut you off in traffic? How do you deal with these difficult people or uncomfortable situations in your life? Do you curse them or thank God for them?

To be thankful for the above-mentioned people seems almost impossible and inconceivable. However, do you realise that this group of people play an important role in your life? Here are two possible reasons:

Reason 1: Difficult people or situations reveal what is going on in our hearts

Difficult people or situations help us to identify things that need to change in our lives. It is no wonder the psalmist prays in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Why is it important for the psalmist that God should point out to him what is going on in his heart? We find an answer in Psalm 24:3-4: “Who may climb the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure …” God is holy and as we move closer to him, we will desire to become like him. Awkward situations and difficult people help us to identify what needs to change – while the Holy Spirit strengthens us to address it.

Reason 2: Difficult situations or people shape our characters

Our character is more important to God than our comfort. Difficult times and people help us to grow, to change our perspective on life and most importantly, to stay dependent on God. It is, therefore, understandable that in Romans 5:3-5 we read: “… we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint …”

I ask you again, who makes life uncomfortable for you? Remember, the slow or irresponsible driver in traffic may reveal our impatience and unnecessary anger in our hearts. The grumpy colleague or manager in the workplace helps us to remember that we should work as if for God and not man, while at the same time helping us to improve our self-control. And the rebellious teen, toxic mother-in-law or difficult spouse may bring us down on our knees where we are reminded of our dependence on God.

Let us, therefore, thank God for difficult people and circumstances. He is most probably busy shaping and moulding our characters like diamonds, so we would be able to shine our light before the people around us. God bless.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.21.9
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