A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit.Proverbs 15:13 (NLT)
“You’re a hypocrite!” The words appeared on my phone as the text message alert pinged. They were followed by “You don’t love me” and “you are fake.” The insults kept coming over the course of an hour. My message alert was pinging what seemed to be every five seconds. The young person on the other end was letting me know just what they thought of me as their friend and pastor. In their eyes, I was a loser, a failure. I’m not going to lie, the words stung. I had only been in youth ministry for about a year and was still sorting out God’s calling on my life. Of course, Satan did everything he could do to rub it in. He began reminding me of exactly what he thought of me too. Oddly enough, his words echoed the words that were appearing on my phone’s screen.
Over time, the Lord has allowed me to see this exchange of views through His eyes (and countless others just like it). I’d like to share the wisdom He has given me over the years. Here it is: Don’t look at the words; look at the person. Yes, it’s easier said than done. It takes practice and patience. But it is worth it.
As our verse today tells us, when we look at the person, we can see what is going on inside them. Yes, you can even see past their fake smile and the persona they are pretending to be. As you look at the person, pray that God will show you what is causing them to lash out. It will reveal much more than you can imagine.
When someone is lashing out at you, it has less to do with you, and much, much more to do with what is happening inside of them. When they are struggling in life, people lash out at those who appear to have it together. When they are wrestling with the Holy Spirit, they lash out at those who have faith. When they don’t like themselves, they don’t like you. In short, they lash out because they feel miserable inside, and Satan stokes their anger towards those who may actually be capable of helping them. The words they hurl are not their own.
When someone lashes out, pray that the turmoil in their life will cease. When they call you names, pray that God will give them the blessing of peace. When they point out your faults, pray that God will strengthen them. When they lash out, respond with prayers of goodness.