I find it interesting that all through life, the greatest strength is forged in broken places. The same is true in dealing with difficult people. God is not committed to our comfort. God is committed to creating His character within us. One way He accomplishes that goal is through the abrasive and coarse work of sandpaper people as th...ey grind off and sand away our rough edges, even to the point of breaking. Suffering comes in many ways, but always with the purpose of making us strong enough to endure pain and weak enough to rely upon God.
Many times, it is through difficult relationships that we experience the most pain. Peter writes that God will "make everything right" which indicates the promise that He will take our circumstances and relationships, adjust them and make the broken pieces fit together in order to equip us for service. "Making everything right" can also be translated in the original language as "mending nets." A fisherman's net was a vital part of his livelihood and a broken net meant no fish. Even one broken net affected the fisherman's ability to make a living and provide for his family. It was imperative for the fisherman to keep his nets in working condition, constantly mending the broken places.
Every time we are broken but allow God to do the mending, we become stronger and new life is provided. Paul was certainly no stranger to trials, pain and broken nets. "We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope." (Romans 5:3-4 NCV) I must admit I have been known to insert the name of my current sandpaper person into that verse so that it reads, "I know that my sandpaper person produces patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope." What an amazing progression, from a difficult relationship to Godly character and then on to hope. Hope follows pain because pain forces us to trust God and rely upon His power to mend a broken life. It is in that abandonment to God that we find hope.
Difficult relationships and the brokenness they bring can make us either bitter or better. It is our choice. We can insist on comfort and forfeit character or we can embrace the brokenness, knowing that God will use it for our good. Sandpaper people are grindstones. Whether they grind us down or polish us up depends on what we are made of. Harry Truman said: "Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings, those who cheer today may curse tomorrow and only one thing endures - character."
I believe sandpaper people voice the silent prayer that someone will be strong enough to stop their vicious cycle of offensive behavior. God calls us to be that strong someone. I also believe God allows difficult relationships to form within the realm of our daily walk in order to strengthen us for the very task of life.
Lord, please fill my heart with Your love for the sandpaper people in my life. Please let me see them as You see them. Use them, Father; to refine me to the place that I am the woman You created me to be. I choose to thank You for the difficult relationships in my life, knowing that through these abrasive people, Your work is accomplished in me.
In Jesus' name,
Mary Southerland ~~Jennifer~~
Sisters In Christ (Women's Fellowship)