The hardest thing about relationships is that we have to have them with other people! I'm not trying to be facetious, but let's face it, people are fallen, flawed, and fickle just like we are. And sometimes they are far worse. I've had my share of dealings with difficult people--at school, work, home, and sometimes on the road. :-) I must admit that the hardest relationships I've ever had have been in my marriages. Yes, I've been married twice. The first when I was 21 and it ended disastrously, and the second when I was 31. I'm still married to the 2nd husband, but it was rough going in the beginning, and especially after I started following Jesus.
Why am I telling you this? Because I believe that dealing with a very difficult spouse or close family member is one of the hardest challenges we Christians face. Especially if that person is not a Christian or doesn't act like a Christian.
Recently I read the story of Abigail and David in 1 Samuel 25. What a wonderful love story! But it didn't start out that way. Abigail was married to a monster named Nabal. The Bible says he was "rough and evil in his doings" and "he is such a wicked man that one cannot speak to him." When David and his warriors went to Nabal to ask for some food in return for protection and food they had already provided for Nabal's shepherds, he refused. Quite rudely, in fact. So, David gathered his warriors and marched to kill Nabal and all his men.
We don't know how Abigail ended up with such a loser. My guess is that it was an arranged marriage. Nabal was a very wealthy man and it says Abigail was "a woman of good understanding and beautiful". Back then women were pretty much stuck with the husbands they got. In other words, Abigail was serving a life-sentence in the prison of her bad marriage. You would think that her hopeless circumstances would have caused her to become bitter, angry, cruel, and maybe even turn her back on God. But not Abigail.,
Abigail soon discovered that David was heading their way, so she quickly gathered bread, wine, sheep, figs, grapes, etc.. and loaded them all up on donkeys and headed out to meet David. When she found him, she knelt by his feet and begged his forgiveness, taking the blame of her husband's actions on herself, and essentially prophesied over David that the Lord was with him and he would one day be king. Say what? My first thought when I read this was why didn't she just allow David and his men to kill her husband? Wouldn't that be the end of all her troubles? What an easy way out! And why take the blame on herself for her horrid husband? But Abigail could not defy her God, nor the husband she'd vowed to respect and love. She was a God-fearing woman of immense integrity.
David was quite taken with her and turned his warriors away. The next day when Abigail told her husband what had happened (again, I wondered why) he became helpless like a stone. Ten days later, it says "The Lord smote him and he died." When David heard, he proposed to Abigail and took her as his wife. She went from being the wife of the worst scum on the earth to the wife of the soon to be King of Israel, a man after God's own heart. Amazing, romantic story!
You may or may not be facing a difficult relationship in your life at the moment. If you aren't, you probably will at some point. Let us all take a lesson from this incredible woman, Abigail. May our stories turn out as wonderful as hers!
Taken from F.B. Meyer (Through the Bible Day by Day) "Never let the evil disposition of one mate hinder the devotion and grace of the other. Never let the difficulties of your home lead you to abdicate your throne. Do not step down to the level of your circumstances, but lift them to your own high calling in Christ!"