I currently live in Memphis, Tennessee. This is the fourth city I’ve called home in the last seven years--I get around, and I enjoy it. In each of these cities, I have lived, worked, churched, and built a life. Each one has contributed in some way to my spiritual, mental, and emotional growth. I’ve learned that each city has its own tempo and if you can get with it, you’ll do just fine. A place is always changing. People are always coming and going. But there are constants too. One of them being miserable people. They are everywhere: work, church, and in line at Walmart. There is always someone who is unhappy and cannot stand to see someone else happy. As the saying goes, “Misery loves company.”
I cannot speak directly into these people’s circumstances because, quite frankly, I don’t know. All I know is that they were dismal. Their hearts were like stone. You could see the discontent in their eyes. Hear the dissatisfaction in their voice. They always smile and ask you all kinds of questions about your life. What you are doing, where you are going, who you are hanging out with. But they are not asking because they care. They are asking because they are conniving. Dealing with these people is an art. In the past, I’ve tried to play it nice. You know, kill them with kindness, but all it did was kill me because they just kept pushing. Then, I tried to fight back with the truth. But miserable people rarely deal in truth. All they will do is tell more lies. Then I played their game. Was fake right back with them. They found that frustrating. Unfortunately, when I consult the scriptures, it tells me that I am not here to play a game. I am here to serve my Father in heaven. To do what pleases Him.
How does one deal with miserable, duplicitous, hypocritical, lying people? For Jesus, these were the Pharisees. How did He deal with them? He did not attempt to kill them with kindness. He did not play their game. He stuck with the truth. Yes, they fought back by responding with lunacy and even conspired to kill Him. No matter what they did, He was not derailed. By and by, Jesus entrusted Himself to The Father. A.W. Pink commented, “Until God’s foreordained hour struck, and the incarnate Son bowed to His Father’s pleasure, He was immortal.” The Pharisees could do nothing to the Son that The Father did not allow. The same with Job, Esther, David, Paul, me, and you.
So how do you deal with miserable believers and unbelievers?
If they are unbelievers, consider the story of David. Saul wanted him dead and made several attempts on his life. David did not retaliate. For the most part, he defended himself honorably. In the incident in the cave found in 1 Samuel 24, Saul had received some intel on David’s whereabouts. He was hunting him down to kill him. While on the way, Saul stopped into a nearby cave to relieve himself. This happened to be the cave that David and his men were hiding out in. David’s men encouraged him to take advantage of this situation and end his troubles with King Saul once and for all. Instead, David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe and was grief-stricken about it. David understood that it was not his place to exact vengeance. That is for the Lord to do.
We are not to fight evil with evil. It takes time, and it isn’t very rewarding in the short term. Frankly, some people are nasty. Saul was largely unkind to King David. But David did not allow Saul’s actions to dilute his testimony. God sees everything and will take care of it in His time and in His way. I encourage you to entrust yourself to the Lord as King David did.
What people need most is someone to pray for them. Unbelievers and believers alike. Of course, we pray for these people differently, but we pray, nonetheless. People are hurting and not all wear their disappointment well. Luke 6:27 speaks about loving your enemies and doing good to those who hate you. Jesus spoke the truth clearly, concisely, lovingly, and without discrimination.
If they are believers, we pray for them, love them, admonish them—when appropriate—and remain consistent. Consistency is key here. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let’s not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary.” As soon as we switch up, the jig is up. If you are dedicated to loving a person, love them. Remember, love is patient. Believers live to please The Father, and He is exhaustingly patient with us. I believe where some people go wrong here is they use God’s Word as a license to beat people over the head. We are not to abuse people with God’s Word, we are either to save or expose them with it. If you are truly concerned about someone, then be sure to express that concern in a genuinely caring way. Being treated unfairly can be exhausting, frustrating, and maddening. But if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, it can keep us on the right path.
Sometimes God’s truth is hard to hear and can be even harder to say. Difficulty does not absolve us of our responsibility. Sometimes all you need to do is ask a person if everything is okay. Other times it is you expressing how what they are doing is making you feel. And other times it is you setting a boundary. I discuss Establishing Healthy Boundaries in Your Relationships in a previous post.
Being able to have difficult conversations is a sign of maturity and how we respond to difficult conversations is a sign of honesty. Both of which are essential.
Every city I have lived in there has been someone who was difficult to deal with. Jesus is well acquainted with difficult people and the drama they bring with them. He felt pain, and in that pain, He did not seek to denigrate His counterparts. He did not seek to bring other people down; He spoke the truth and ran to The Father as did David. Do you run to Him? Do you pray for your enemies, sincerely? Do you remain steadfast in times of adversity? Or are you miserable and unbelieving? When the going gets rough, what does it reveal about you?