“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43-45 CEB
Hurt people hurt people.
You know the cycle: Dad is upset about something at work so he yells at his wife. Mom is upset with Dad but he already left for work so she yells at the child. The child is upset now but can’t get back at mom because she sent him to his room so he kicks the dog who bites him back.
We can’t know what’s going on inside the head and heart of the person next to us. But chances are if they lash out at us, they may be hurting inside and it usually doesn’t have anything to do with us. We just happened to be a convenient target.
Our first response may be to lash right back at them, or pull away and avoid them all together. but this only perpetuates the cycle. We may wind up “kicking the dog.” No wonder our loving heavenly Father instructs us to pray for those who harass us.
Prayer helps us forgive their actions toward us. How can we pray for someone if we’re still mad at them? That’s hard! It helps us to see them through God’s eyes and relieves the need to hurt them back. It also places the responsibility in God’s hands (not ours) to deal with the unseen problems in their hearts.
Lord, when someone hurts me, teach me to respond with prayer first rather than reacting in anger or hurt. Amen.