Times are that we go through periods when things do not go our way very well. Times like this cannot be ignored.
For example, days are when it seems like all the out-of-state drivers keep pulling out in front of you. Or, your food servers do not seem to be to be paying attention very well to your requests. Or, you go through stretches when you just cannot get along well with others. Or, you continuously get slammed or yelled at for no apparent reason. Or, people usually friendly with you give you the cold shoulder for periods of time.
You tend to wonder what it is that you are doing wrong that seem to be causing such reactions to your presence.
The problem with times like this is that it can cause frustration to the point of getting upset. One might even feel the need to reciprocate the negative attitudes being directed your way. When that happens, particularly in the lives of church people, it becomes a serious failure in bringing the Lord honor and glory.
Instead of showing our spiritual, Spirit-filled good side, we wind up showing our emotional, humanity-prone bad side. Times when we have opportunity to show others the love of Christ, we ourselves rather contribute to the corporate societal angst. After all, the people of the church are supposed to show a difference in the name of Jesus Christ.
But, there is an important point that people associated with the church fail to realize. It is found in the fact that the Bible is a very practical resource for assisting us even during such times that trouble us. The Bible points out necessary God-inspired steps we should observe and practice so that we can very accurately demonstrate the presence of Christ in our lives for the benefit of others who perhaps need a friendly smile or kind word from God’s people rather than meanness or a frown.
One of the Psalmists serves as an example. Indications were that he was getting negative responses from people associated with God, and that he was also getting criticism from those who detested his association with God. In other words—-for a good while and for various reasons, things were not going his way, which caused him grief. So, what did he say about his own experience to help us with our sometimes like experiences?
The following is what he found to be true. Tell the Lord what you are experiencing, but be careful to wait patiently on Him. “I am weary of my crying. My throat is dried. My eyes fail while I wait for my God,” he said.
Deal spiritually with your own shortcomings and sins, because the Lord may be using times not going your way to get your attention to get right with Him. Actually, the rule-of-thumb is to start with yourself anyway. Many times when we look at others as the reason for our issues it only causes more issues.
Faithfully and openly identify with the Lord. We need to remember and consider that not all things went the Lord’s way during His ministry. People cold-shouldered Him. People criticized Him. People rejected Him. But, He was always patient with others. He was always kind to others. He always represented God the Father with integrity. He is our example to follow and with whom to faithfully identify.
Expect the Lord to improve conditions on your behalf. Determine to leave things in God’s hands. In the meantime, continually praise God.
The environment the people of the church face is filled with people who need demonstrated before them the difference Christ can make in life. They are best able to see that by how we conduct ourselves even when thing are not going our way. The main point is to demonstrate the presence of Christ in all of our circumstances even when things are not going our way.
The hard thing for me, however, is that I am the biggest hypocrite there is about this matter. I have a hard time practicing all the time what I preach on this subject. I ask you to forgive me.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.