When our children were little, we moved next door to a family that didn't know Jesus. We typically started our homeschooling day with reading the Bible, memorizing a verse and praying together as a family. One morning after realizing that this family did not know Christ, we prayed together that we would be a witness to them.
The next day, their little boy punched our 8 year old daughter in the stomach! I sat down for a minute when she came home with her story and injury and talked to God. I told Him that we had just prayed for this family and look at this!
And the Lord brought this scripture passage to mind:
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic[a] either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons ofthe Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36
And I had a revelation. I realized that it's easy for us to be an example of love when everything is good. It's when things go wrong, when people are unkind, when there's really a reason to be offended, that people will notice the difference. When we surprise them with love and peace in the face of adversity and offense, they will see Jesus.
We walked over to their house and met with the parents, heard both sides of the story and found out our daughter wasn't blameless, and we asked forgiveness and gave forgiveness. From then on, we had a very good relationship with their family.
One day, about a year later, we lived through Hurricane Opal. Our power went out at 9 pm and we spent a scary night in the basement listening to the multiple tornadoes come up our street and trees crashing all around us, and even one breaking through a window and coming into the house. When we got up in the morning, we had seven hardwood trees down in our backyard, three of them across our roof, and one, like I said, into a window. Our neighborhood was a mess but thankfully, not a single person in our town was injured!
Several neighhbors gathered in another neighbor's yard to cut and remove trees from their driveway. The kids were running all over and enjoying the chaos. Soon, several of the kids rang the doorbell telling us that our 3 year old son was hurt. I ran outside to see blood pouring down his face. When the neighbors realized I was there because he was hurt, all the chain saws stopped and they wanted to make sure he was ok. I asked him what had happened and he told me he wanted to pet the little neighbor dog and that she got a mean look on her face and jumped up and bit him.
She had clipped him right above his eye brow and below his eye and the two tiny wounds were bleeding profusely. I immediately wiped the blood away, saw the small injuries, scooped him up as I spoke gently to him and started to carry him home. The mom of the neighbors we had prayed for ran over to see if he was ok and I smiled and said that it looked minor.
Forever after that, she would tell me whenever she saw me, that she couldn't believe how calm I was. I've thought about that a lot since then. I've wondered what she was used to. She would come and talk to me whenever she had a chance and she would always mention it.
We lived next door to them for five years. We continued to pray for them while we were there. I hope we were a blessing to them and God has brought our prayers, and other's for them, to fruition.
But because of that situation, I've learned to look at adversities as an opportunity to shine in Christ. I look at bad situations completely differently and watch and listen to the Holy Spirit to see how He wants me to use that opportunity. And because I know that 'Jesus is interceding to cause all things to work for good for those who love the Lord' (Romans 8:28) I stay in peace.
love and blessings~