It was probably one of the most exasperating times I have ever experienced. In fact, it was so shocking that it felt unreal—like some bad dream.
But it was very real, right in church on Sabbath morning, Two people, who are not Christians of any faith, but who have attended our church semi-regularly, sat in the second row. The man is a convicted felon who wants to blame the church, and particularly the pastor and his wife, for his problems. We have had to deal with this man off and on for nearly the past two years, and he has disrupted various programs of the church—but never like this.Our church has a "praise and prayer request" time, when an elder leads out while microphones are given to those in the congregation who would like to share. On this particular Sabbath, the man's wifegot up quickly and took the microphone. She turned around and faced the congregation. After using Matthew 18:17, "tell it to the church," as justification for their actions, she proceeded to read a very lengthy typewritten statement accusing my husband and me, along with three other families of the church, of various crimes. Lie after lie poured out of her mouth as the entire church sat in a state of shock.My hands grew cold and I felt sick inside. I wanted to stand up and say, "You're lying! Stop it! Stop disrupting the church while you're on Satan's errand!" Then I prayed, "Lord, help me now." It was all I could pray, but I knew the Lord understood. I remembered a text I had read that morning during worship: "This is the word of the Lord... Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zech. 4:6). A calm, wonderful peace came and as I concentrated on God and His promises, I didn't even hear much more of what was being read.Suddenly, someone behind me in the congregation asked if we could pray before the woman continued reading. Although the woman who was reading and her husband didn't seem to want anyone to pray, someone else stood to their feet and immediately asked for God's Spirit to be there, and if this wouldbring honor and glory to His name, then let this continue, but if not, let it end. After the prayer, the woman tried to continue as many members and visitors in the church got up and left. Another church member stood up and asked the woman to stop. At that point, her husband grew frantic and started accusing the congregation. Things deteriorated rapidly and very soon the couple left.
As things calmed down, some of those who had left the service returned and a wonderful peace settled throughout the sanctuary. We felt ready to worship.
These two people are by far the most difficult people I have ever encountered, When I try to deal with them myself, it never works. When I hate them, bitterness only poisons my own soul. When I completely turned them over to God, when I forgave them and earnestly prayed for their salvation, then God worked things out in His way and delivered me.
It was remarkable how God provided comfort that Sabbath. The Sabbath school lesson dealt with Psalm 46: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea" (verses 1 and 2).
The scripture reading, 1 John 2:18-27, and the sermon entitled, "Protection from Deception" carried just the message we needed. The special music was also beautifully appropriate, and the words of the closing hymn "We are Living, We are Dwelling" had a powerful message. We knew that God had been with us that day.
I still have much to learn about dealing with difficult people. What I seem to be learning, however, is this: God has called us to His service. He has called us as pastoral wives to love the unlovely, to reach the unreachable for Him. He has to use somebody to reach these people. He needs me to be so secure in His love that I will allow Him to use me in His ministry of compassion, acceptance, and reconciliation.
I don't know how God will reach these two difficult people in my life, but I do know that I never want to be a hindrance to His working. I pray that these people, for whom Jesus gave His life, will one day soon accept His gift of salvation.
Help in Daily Living
'Cultivate the habit of speaking well of others. Dwell upon the good qualities of those with whom you associate, and see as little as possible of their errors andfaifings. When tempted to complain of what someone has said or done, praise something in that person's life or character. Cultivate thankfulness. Praise god for His wonderful love in giving Christ to die for us. It never pays to thinkof our grievances. God calls upon us to thinkofHis mercy and Nis matchless Cove, that we may be inspired with praise.
'Earnest workers have no time for dwelling upon the faults of others. We cannot afford to five on the husks of others' faults or failings. Evil speaking is a twofold curse, falling more heavily upon the speaker than upon the hearer. He who scatters the seeds of dissention and strife reaps in his own soul the deadly fruits. The very act of looking for evil in others develops evil in those who look. By dwelling upon the faults of others, we are changed into the same image. But by beholding esus, talking ofHis love and perfection of character, we become changedintoHis image. By contemplating the lofty ideal He has placed before us, we shall be uplifted into a pure and holy atmosphere, even the presence of God. When we abide here, there goes forth from us a light that irradiates all who are connected with us.'
—Ministry of Healing, p. 492.