What to Do with the People that Have it in For You
David was a pro at dealing with difficult people.
In spite of his giant-killing heroics back in the day, not everyone was a fan. He had way more than his share of haters. Trash-talking, threats, harassment…David dealt with all the ugly aspects of interpersonal conflict. The truth is that he probably brought some of it on himself, but most of it was completely random and mean-spirited.
One of the ways David processed his pain was to write about it. In Psalm 4, it seems that he is describing how he handled his large group of non-fans. You and I might find his strategy helpful as we encounter our own:
- Go to God first. David prayed, “Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!” (v. 1) As much as you may want to immediately respond to a situation, take a moment to check in with the Lord. Vent on the One who can handle it best.
- Base your identity on that which will never change. When David’s status with someone was not in a good place, he found security in his relationship with God. He said “But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him” (v. 3). As a Christian, your identity is settled forever in Christ. Because of Him, you are declared righteous (II Corinthians 5:21) and nothing anyone says to you or about you will ever change that, period.
- Do not react in anger. Take some time to chill out. David put it this way: “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah” (v. 4) Most of us have tried angry outbursts and discovered that it make things worse – not better – every single time.
- Trust God (v. 5). Dealing with difficult people is unsettling to the core, but you still have 1,000 reasons to be confident that the Lord will see you through it.
- Find your joy in the LORD (v. 7) Long-time pastor and author, H.B. London, used to refer to his difficult people as joy-suckers. If your personal joy is based on how you are treated, it will be random as the weather. But if your joy is centralized in Jesus, you can be joyful even when you are dealing with a joy-sucker (See Philippians 4:4).
- Get some sleep (v. 8) If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: Fatigue makes cowards of us all. Check out for a while. Let your mind and body rest and see how different your perspective is tomorrow.
The Apostle Paul sums up the challenge before us when we’re confronted with hate:
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
Let’s face it, dealing with people that have it in for us can take a real toll on the heart. But with God’s help we can follow David’s example and overcome evil with good.
Jesus raised the bar even higher when it comes to dealing with haters, but we will talk about that another time in How to Handle Haters 2.0.
In the meantime, it’s a new day with God. Run with it.