In the early days of my ministry, when things like this would happen, I would feel violated, confused and hurt. And yes, I would feel like a fool for them getting over on me. There were times that I actually prayed, “God, do not send another addict my way.” This was one of those prayers that God said, “No”.
Ok, if God was not going to give me my request, then I must learn to deal with the people He sent me some other way. I could not fall apart mentally, emotionally, and spiritually every time I was played or taken advantage of.
I was shocked one time when an addict (after stealing my car) said to me, “Well, it is your fault, you knew I was an addict.” Indeed, I was incensed, “You mean you get to victimize me and I have to carry the blame for it as well?” I latter learned that part of the addictive personality is the blame game. It makes it easier to justify their addictive behavior.
Finally, one day after another incident, the Lord told me “Desperate people do desperate things.” There are many desperate people in my neighborhood. People desperate for food, for housing, for clothing, for jobs, for medical attention, for drugs and alcohol, for attention, for love, for God. Have you ever been desperate, I have. At that point, I began to understand the behavior that compelled some people to behave the way they do. (I do not condone their behavior; I only somewhat understand it.)
And it helped me to understand better how I should respond to these people. First, I determined to respond to them scripturally. A flood of scripture came to me. “Be wise as a serpent, but gentle as a dove.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Forgive me, my trespasses, as I forgive others.” “If I love only those who love me, what good is that?” “Pray for them that despitefully use you.” By placing me in the hood, God was giving me a daily opportunity to live the scripture, not just hear it.
Second, I decided to stand on the character and promises of God towards me. “I am your provider.” “I will never leave you or forsake you.” “No weapon formed against you shall prevail.” “All things work together for good to them that are called according to His purpose.” Living in the hood, has giving me greater opportunity to trust God and to take him at his word.
I have come to several conclusions after all these years:
God is enough. I have asked myself, If I have nothing left in this earth-no possessions, no friends, no family, no health, is God enough? I have concluded, yes He is!
Obedience is better than sacrifice. Although I have often discovered that obedience will of require sacrifice, if nothing else the sacrifice of my self will.
Desperate people do desperate things and sinners do what sinners do, therefore I should not be shocked or amazed by their behavior. They are doing what come naturally to them. Yet, God loves them, not for their actions, but despite their actions. If I call myself a child of God, can I do any less?
As the old gospel song goes, “He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs.” My constant prayer is “Lord, help me to look past their faults and see their need, as you have done for me. I too am a desperate person. I am desperate for you.”