Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”
“I can’t believe she did that! No one with ANY sense of decency would have done what she did!! I’ve never known anyone to be so insensitive. That was SO mean and hurtful…”
I cried as my husband John sat silently by, letting me vent. The pain ran deep from this latest wound. Off and on all afternoon, I would return to vent and nurse my wounds.
I vented to anyone who would listen. When I recounted the story to my sister-in-law, she said “When I’m in a situation like that, I get my Bible, read scripture, and pray about it.” I stared at her for about two seconds then continued my tirade. But she was right; I should have taken my hurt to the God of All Comfort.
By the next morning, a Sunday, I was still weepy with the hurt and pain, but knew I had to take this latest wound to God, and let Him handle things. I opened my Bible to Psalm 31:7-8 and these comforting words greeted me:
“I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, Because You have seen my affliction (italics mine); You have known the troubles of my soul, And You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place.”
I wept that I hadn’t first trusted God with this heartache. His Word told me that He KNEW the troubles of my soul. How comforting I found that scripture!
When we got to church for the morning services, I was almost knocked off my feet by the title of the day’s sermon: Loving Your Enemies. Oh, my, what else did the Lord have in store for me? I definitely considered the woman who had been so mean, to be an enemy of mine.
My pastor began the sermon with words to this effect: Have you ever wanted to take a gun and shoot someone?
GULP! Uh, yes, as a matter of fact, I thought about that yesterday….
The sermon discussed Luke 6:27-28, the Biblical principle of loving your enemy.
…Love your enemies (Could I love this woman?)
…Do good to those who hate you (NO WAY I could do good to her)
…Bless those who curse you (Um, nope, not this either)
…Pray for those who mistreat you (Ok, maybe this)
I was afraid that in loving this person, we would have to become friends. I’d have to invite her to dinner, go shopping with her, blah, blah, blah. But my pastor explained that while God calls us to love all people, we are not called to be friends with them all. For friendship, there has to be a level of trust. A wise man, my pastor!
So I committed to pray for this woman who had wounded me time and time again.
Those of you who know me, know that I am a task oriented person. I have my prayer journal organized in such a way that I won’t forget to pray for someone. Daily, I pray for my husband and grandkids. Mondays are for family, Tuesdays – church family, Wednesdays – friends….you get it, right?
My dilemma was that I didn’t have a “spot” for this woman. I couldn’t and wouldn’t put her on my Family or my Friends prayer page! What to do? Finally, I adjusted my Wednesday page like so: Friends/OTHER. She was definitely an Other.
When Wednesday rolled around, I saw first hand God’s sense of humor. I had been reading through the One Year Bible. That day the reading was from the “love” chapter of 1 Corinthians (1 Cor. 13:1-13). Come on, you know it, say it with me: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous…love is not provoked, DOES NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT A WRONG SUFFERED.
Ouch. OUCH! I not only took the wrongs into account, I kept track of them religiously!
I persevered in praying for my enemy for a little over a year and a half. Did my prayers change her? No, not that I could see.
So what changed?
I began to see her as God saw her – His child, whom He dearly loves. Jesus died on the cross for her as well as for me. I know I’m a long way from loving her in a Christ-like manner. But Jesus washed the feet of Judas, His betrayer (John 13:1-11). In light of that, and with His strength, I should be able to pray for my enemy.
Heavenly Father, I confess I don’t always see people the way You do. Forgive my limited sight. Lord, give me a heart of love like Yours. God, soften my heart of stone, and mold me into the woman You would have me become. In Jesus name, Amen