It is important to understand that we are powerless without God. He alone is the reason why we breathe and sing and rejoice. Any power that we have originates from God, and any victory that we have is from him. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End (Revelation 22:13 KJV). The Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1–2 KJV).
There will always be new things that we will believe God for, new breakthroughs that we need in order to go to the next level in Jesus Christ. So we can pull from the lessons we’ve learned in the past to help us get through our present tests. Everything fits together, and we can trust God to have our best interests in mind as he works on our behalf and moves toward creating situations that are more pleasing to his will.
Often, we will find that God shows us a connection between the thing we are trusting him for and a course of action we can take to participate in the process of our breakthrough. If we are going through a hurtful season with a friend or a loved one, we can trust God to be very clear with us about what we need to do and how we need to respond and what not to do in each situation. Often, this may be incredibly frustrating because what God may be telling us to do is very different from what other people might do or what they might advise us to do. Most of the time, God simply wants us to show love to everyone, to be gentle regardless of how we are being treated, and to always pray for everyone, especially those who do us wrong (Matthew 5:44 KJV).
With the first point, showing love can take many forms—continuing to do a good job in all of our responsibilities, listening to our friends or loved ones when they want to talk to us, capitalizing on the good times, emphasizing the positive moments. Choosing a good and kind attitude instead of slipping into the slippery slope of negativity. Staying happy and joyful and peaceful no matter how bad the storm around us gets. Smiling when we can. Laughing when we can. Being dependable. Staying silent even when we have a really good comeback. When the Holy Spirit tells us through James’ writing that “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you” (James 1:27 NLT), I believe that this is not just a literal direction, but a figurative one, too. Sometimes our friends and loved ones are emotional and spiritual orphans—their parents have long abandoned them, and our friends and loved ones need us to care for them in their distress! We can take this piece of Scripture to heart, and we can refuse to let the world corrupt us even when it’s tempting to “be mean” in response to their treatment of us—we can refuse to allow the world’s way of dealing with hard people to become our modus operandi. Only by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives are we able to accomplish this.
With the second point, being gentle regardless of how we are being treated is much tougher to actually do than to just spout it off as advice. It is very easy to become resentful, but this is where the power of God becomes evident in our lives. It’s not in our own strength that we are able to face our adversaries with grace and patience (Zechariah 4:6 KJV). It’s in God’s strength that we are able to endure anything we come up against (Ephesians 6:10 ESV; Philippians 4:13 KJV). No matter how much we want to yell back, to say mean things, to throw things, to hit things, to destroy our relationship like our friend or loved one is doing, we must chose gentleness. It’s nothing we can do with our own willpower. It’s a spiritual happening that takes place only as we hide ourselves in God and continue to abide in Jesus (Galatians 5:22–23 ESV). We can recognize when God’s leading takes over, helping us to stay gentle and controlled so that the Holy Spirit can work (Galatians 5:25 ESV). And it is helpful for us to remember what the Holy Spirit said through Paul: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV). God will show us little ways that we can let go of our need to retaliate, he will show us little ways that we can lay down our right to get even, and he will show us little ways to surrender our urge to overpower those who may hurt us. As God guides us into better choices to make and onto better paths to walk, he does this not to break us for the sake of keeping us broken but he does this to break down our pride for the sake of depending on him for our rescue! If there is ever a time when we need to say something or do something, the Lord will let us know. We can trust him to direct us, to empower us, and to embolden us with his Holy Spirit as he leads.
With the third point, always praying for those who do us wrong isn’t always going to be something we want to do or feel like doing, but this is exactly how God helps us to not stay bitter when bad things happen to us. Prayer is like the lubrication on a bike. It keeps the rain off so that our gears don’t get rusty. God uses our prayers to help us as well as those for whom we are praying (James 5:16 ESV). One of the hardest things to do is not retaliate but to pray silently for those who have caused us offence. It’s truly difficult to really take to heart the instructions of Jesus to bless those who curse us and to show kindness and be generous even when others are not kind or generous to us (Luke 6:27–28 KJV). In all of this, God may show us some spiritual realities that are going on—but whether or not we gain additional knowledge of the situation, if we want God to prevail, then we need to follow his instructions even if it’s hard or if we don’t fully understand them (Luke 6:31 NLT; Luke 6:35–36 KJV).
We can trust God to show us the way (Psalm 23:1–3 NLT). He knows everything that is going on in the present, and he knows everything that has gone on in the past. He knows exactly what will have the most effect in our lives, and most of the time, God doesn’t need anything from us except our submission to him (James 4:7, 10 KJV; 1 Peter 5:5–6 KJV), which is the surrendering of ourselves into his hands and the giving up of our right to vindicate ourselves so that we will let him settle the score—and more importantly so that we will focus on growing closer to him, hiding his Word in our heart, and applying his Word to our life.