The blessings I cherish most are those challenges that transform me as I grow closer to God and more willingly see through His purpose and love with His compassion. Blessings aren’t always in the form of challenges, and challenges are often difficult to see as blessings, but they are indeed. A challenge is an opportunity for us to exercise our faith in God and to trust His love for us and others.
God’s plan is always best though often misunderstood or viewed incorrectly from our perspective. God uses all situations, challenges included, to draw us closer to Him and grow us stronger and wiser for His purpose. We read in Romans 8:28 that everything is promised to work for our good and His glory if we love God and live to honor Him.
In the nitty-gritty of daily life we sometimes forget that every human is created by God in His own image (Gen 1:27) and that He loves us all, regardless of our heritage and background or where we live (Acts 10:34). Looking more closely at Acts 10:34 we see that “anyone who fears [God] and does what is right is acceptable to him.” We know that no person (except Christ) is perfect. In Ecclesiastes 7:20 King Solomon writes, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” King Solomon advises us to wisely remember that we ourselves are not perfect, that we are to overlook the evil words of others against us because we, too, have cursed others (Ecclesiastes 7:21).
Sometimes situations get muddy with emotions, and we lose sight of how we should respond to attacks by satan through the hands and mouths of others who claim to be believers. It hurts to be judged incorrectly and unfairly, lied and gossiped about, and discarded like yesterday’s trash by those claiming to be followers of Christ. It can be especially difficult to put our own pain aside to love, forgive, and pray for those who satan uses to attack us. However, it is only when we do this that we make satan’s attacks useless.
Satan is no respecter of persons and will use whomever is available. Wrong attitudes, thought, or actions all distance us from our Heavenly Father enough that we forget His love and His how-to’s of how we are to love others. As humans our nature is to put ourselves first. We become offended by the attack and hold it against the person satan is using. There instantly becomes a wedge between God and ourselves and a wedge between the other person and ourselves. We create even greater distance between us and God by viewing ourselves as right with God and in our judgment and view the other person as wrong. Yes, they are wrong, but becoming personally offended makes us wrong as well.
We know that satan is out to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10); that is why we all mess up and don’t always behave with God’s love for one another as Jesus instructs believers in John 15:12. No one is perfect, therefore we all sin and become a pawn of satan at some time. This isn’t a free pass to sin or be self-centered. We all pay for our sins, but we aren’t the judge of others who do us wrong; that’s God’s job.
Proverbs 6:17-19 instruct us of seven things God hates: “a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.”
Anytime I have been hurt by others claiming to be followers of Christ or not, it has been hurt as a result of one of these things God hates. We see in Deuteronomy 32:35 God says regarding those who forget God and do not live for Him, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” We are reminded in Romans 12:17-19 to “recompense to no man evil for evil…If it be possible, live peaceably with all men…avenge not [ourselves], but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, thus saith the Lord.”
We see throughout the Gospels Jesus teaching believers to not judge others but love them and not do them wrong. In Luke 6:35 Jesus commands believers to “love [our] enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Jesus continues His instruction for believers to be merciful and to judge not. He says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
It is only when we abide in our Heavenly Father that we have the wisdom and nature of His Holy Spirit to put others before ourselves. It is then that we can see that satan is simply waging an attack through a person for whom we need to pray. We are to not take offenses personally but see them for what they really are: spiritual warfare. “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:5,9 in the Sermon on the Mount call us to meekness and peaceful living: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” I want to be known as a child of the most high God, the one, true God. If I revere myself better than others and don’t pray for them as I should when they lie about me, abuse and attack me, I am giving satan room for folly in my own life and not praying him out of the lives of others.
Remember that satan doesn’t care about anyone but uses whoever he can at any given moment to offend and prevent God. He spitefully uses people against one another to hurt God. We know his plans and can deny him that power in our own lives by actively seeking and constantly abiding in God. By viewing our situations as challenges to show God’s love and opportunities to grow spiritually when we are done wrong by others, we weaken satan’s attacks making them of no effect. Pray that through God’s blessings of wisdom and love you will see every situation for what it is in the spiritual realm and that you will respond in a manner pleasing to God. Love others as Christ beckons in Luke 6:27,28, “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Understand that no believer is your enemy but can behave as an enemy when they are not abiding in the Father as necessary to share His love with us and others. Pray for others always and do not judge. There’s always a weakness in them satan is attacking in order to attack you. We are shielded from the attack my abiding in our Father in heaven; we aide in reconnaissance for others when we pray for them in love, never hate.