We are God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
Friend to Friend
Sandpaper people, the people who rub us the wrong way, are not only a reality of life but also a gift from God. God has used these difficult relationships as catalysts in my life through which He has lovingly upset my comfortable plans and purposefully redirected my self-ordered steps. The results have often been chaotic and unsettling, but always life-changing.
As a junior in high school, our son Jered experienced his first surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot. The orthopedic surgeon explained what he would do during surgery. “I’ll remove the scar tissue that has formed around the break. I will then insert a metal screw to connect the broken bones.” As he spoke, I was comforted by my mind’s depiction of a shiny thin and smooth metal screw resting gently in my son’s foot. There are times when ignorance is a blessing.
When I took Jered in for a follow-up visit, the doctor x-rayed his foot to make sure it was healing properly. The doctor walked in, waving an x-ray in his hand. “Your foot is healing beautifully,” he announced with great pride. Curious, I asked the doctor if we could see the x-ray. As he slapped it on the light board, I was horrified to see a long metal bolt. I was certain the beginnings of rust could be seen on that barbaric screw jammed up into my son’s precious bone.
Seeing the look on my face, the doctor assured me that everything was fine. I was far from convinced and had a few questions that needed answering. “Is that screw supposed to look like that? Will Jered be able to play football? Will his foot ever be as strong as it was before the surgery?” I asked. The doctor listened, then said, “Well, now that you mention it, I must tell you Jered’s foot will not be as strong as it was before. It will actually be stronger.”
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.
“We are God’s workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).
He often accomplishes that goal through the abrasive work of sandpaper people as they 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 on God.
It is often 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.
“Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong” (1 Peter 5:10 ERV).
“Making everything right” can also be translated as “mending nets.” A fisherman’s net was a vital part of his livelihood because it meant no fish. One broken net affected the fisherman’s ability to provide for his family. Fishermen knew they had to keep their nets in working condition, constantly mending the broken places. Every time we are broken, but allow God to do the mending, we become stronger.
Difficult relationships can make us either bitter or better. It is our choice. We can insist on comfort and forfeit character, or we can embrace brokenness, knowing God will use it for our good.
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 to strengthen us for the task of life.
Lord, fill my heart with Your love for the sandpaper people in my life. Father, please use them to change me into 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, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What do you believe God wants to accomplish through the sandpaper people in your life? Are you willing to trust Him enough to praise Him for those people?
More from the Girlfriends
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