We are arriving to that time of the year when the days get shorter, sunlight showing up only sparingly. As it is, the days are getting longer too — this math that is not my favorite. It is difficult to see the light around this time of the year. I notice it clearly these days. Some days I manage to catch the sunrise on my way to work. Most days it is still dark when I leave to work. Overtime keeps me at work long into the afternoon or evening. So I haven’t been able to leave work early enough to see the sun for a couple weeks now.
So it is that these weeks, I have come in contact with quite a few difficult people. Not that they mean to be difficult. I am sure that is not what is their main purpose. But when dealing with them means that they are yelling at me, it is hard to label them as anything else than difficult. I think that this has something to do with the fact that I have been reading Bible verses on kindness lately. And after these phone calls? I feel like I am failing miserably.
It can take a long time, to arrive at the end of the rope. It looks different every time, too. Maybe you have done all you could for that person, for this situation — but it hasn’t helped. There is nothing left for you to do now, and it hurts. Maybe you tried all you could to apologize, to make amends, to make things right — but this situation is not changing. All the guilt, shame, sorrow keeps you awake at nights now. Or maybe you have exhausted yourself beyond what you can take. All you have now, is the strength to carry on for another two minutes.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Philippians 4:4-5)
How is it possible to be kind in these situations? With mean and angry people, in difficult and challenging situations, when you are exhausted and weary? When circumstances stretch you thin is it even possible to be gentle and kind? Let alone to be known to all by our gentleness. This, again, falls into the category of mathematics that I have a hard time figuring out.
So this must be the key: to rejoice in the Lord always. Still the same question remains. How do we do this with difficult people? How do we rejoice in circumstances that are just plain hard and awful? When exhaustion is a cloak we constantly wear?
This is what I have come to realize. When I am stretched thin and my strength is running out? God will be my Strength and He will give me strength. When I have done all I could with this difficult person? I can pray for them and give them to the One who can actually change their hearts. When I struggle? I can give my heart to the One who can change my heart.
“He who follows righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness, and honor.” (Proverbs 21:21)
So it is, that we can always rejoice in the Lord — because we know the hope we have in Him. When the kindness we can naturally muster up runs out — we only need to lift up the situation, the people, our hearts to the One whose kindness towards us will never run out.