It was one of those weeks. First a customer decided to be awkward about paying his overdue bill. Then something appropriate that I had said in private was repeated to a third party. By the time I heard about it, it was completely distorted and made me sound bad—like the product of a game of Chinese whispers. Then, at the end of the week, I experienced the betrayal by a friend who had misunderstood me and interpreted my words as critical.
I felt beaten up, trodden down, torn apart, and pierced to the core. Instead of being my usual buoyant self I wanted to slide into a hole and sleep for a long time until the storm of accusations passed. Why on earth would God allow all this? I could handle the unpleasant customer, but the believing friends! Surely God was as upset as I was.
It was then that I realized His plan. He had exposed my reactions to the betrayal and misunderstandings. I had withdrawn. “Don’t smile at me; I have no smiles left to return.” I had run a hot bath tub of self-pity, filled it with soothing bubbles and slid as far into it as I could—to wallow. I had no care or energy left for other people, especially if they needed something.
What a contrast to Jesus. While Judas’ betraying kiss was still wet on Jesus’ cheek Jesus stepped in as peacemaker and healer. He healed the servant’s severed ear after Peter had sliced it off. He stopped the foolish swordplay of the disciples and prevented a small massacre. He knew that an angel army could be summoned instantly but He chose to allow the Scriptures to be fulfilled (Matt. 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-11).
That contrast highlights the difference between my fleshly reaction to life, and the response of the Holy Spirit. Pierce my human side and you will see retaliation or retreat. Betray, mock, flog, or crucify Jesus and nothing but the fruit and power of the Spirit flow out. He never missed a beat. Spirit love, power, and truth kept coming.
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God. (2 Timothy 1:7-8)
Realizing God’s plan comforted me. If betrayal and false accusations are His way of getting me to make more room for the Holy Spirit, then I accept.
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