Handling Hostility



I’ve never understood politicians. Why would anybody want a job where, no matter what you do, somebody’s sure to complain and call you names? Talk about a hostile work environment!

Apparently running a country was just as tough in David’s time, and it sometimes got him down: “The enemy has pursued me, crushing me to the ground, making me live in darkness like those long dead” (Psalm 143:3, HCSB).

In David’s case, there was probably some literal pursuing, crushing, and darkness involved. Still, we’ve probably all shouldered similar burdens—unjust loads placed on us by other people’s anger, jealousy, or misunderstanding.

Maybe we can learn something from how David handled the problem. He left some clues about his method in the rest of Psalm 143:

  1. He called out to God. “Lord, hear my prayer. In Your faithfulness listen to my plea and in Your righteousness answer me” (verse 1). This was a pattern in David’s life—when he felt like grumbling, he grumbled to God rather than to other people. While  it’s sometimes appropriate to seek counsel from others, usually we don’t share our business with other people to find a solution—which makes it nothing more than gossip. Instead, our default setting should be to consult God first.
  2. He admitted his true feelings. “My spirit is weak within me; my heart is overcome with dismay” (v. 4). Some people seem to think it’s unacceptable, weak, or even sinful to express their feelings and fears to God. Yet the Bible records many of God’s people doing it, including Job, Moses, David, and Jeremiah. In order to solve a problem, we generally need to discover what the problem entails; defining our feelings is merely part of this process.
  3. He remembered God’s past leading. Reviewing the evidences of God’s work reminds us of His care and power. It boosts our confidence that He’ll come through for us again. David seems to have reviewed God’s actions in three distinct categories:
  • How God had led his ancestors—“I remember the days of old” (v. 5).
  • How God had led him personally—“I meditate on all You have done” (v. 5).
  • How God had manifested Himself through nature—“I reflect on the work of Your hands” (v. 5).
  1. He maintained his devotional routine. “Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning” (v. 8). When life gets crazy, maintaining a regular devotional time can be challenging. It may even be the first thing to go when our schedules need adjusting. But David didn’t allow even these crushing problems to disrupt his regular devotional routine, which included seeking God every morning (Psalms 5:3; 55:17; 59:16).
  2. He prayed for specific guidance. “Reveal to me the way I should go” (v. 8). David’s prayers weren’t the God-bless-everyone prayers we sometimes rattle off while thinking about something else. He made the effort to think about what he was saying. He took the time to delineate several specific problems, and he prayed for specific answers to each one.

If we want to receive the answers and the comfort from God that David did, we need to know Him as David did. We need to prioritize time with Him, trust Him, and rely on Him. We need to open our hearts and get real with Him.

We need to let Him be our Best Friend.

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