He recently brought this home to me again in an entirely new way: this time, in changing my response to a perceived violation of my rights (a perennial problem for a recovering feminist like me).
Here’s the story, in a nutshell, with the circumstances changed mightily to avoid an outright complaint against the offending party.
I’m a freelance writer who has done some work for one of the world’s largest corporations. This particular company has always been slow to pay. And its AP people have long taken a “fast payment” discount even after six months have elapsed since I invoiced them. But hey – at least I always knew they would pay me eventually.
But suddenly that has changed. My last invoice has been ignored completely; it doesn’t even show up in this company’s online vendor-accounting system.
To make matters worse, the person who hired me for this project has been forcibly retired, and his supervisor has not been at all helpful; in fact, over the last year (yes, year!) she has responded to my emails requesting payment updates with exactly two “I’ll look into it” replies. After that, nothing.
I finally managed to get a fellow in Accounts Payable on the phone. “You’re no longer an approved vendor,” he told me. “You were removed three months ago. Why? Beats me.” Maybe it was my punishment for trying to get paid – that, along with an apparent end to any future work from this group.
It’s not a huge amount that I’m owed. Viewed in light of all they’ve paid me over the years, it’s practically nothing.
Still, I’ve lost plenty of sleep over this issue. How many times I have woken up at 1 a.m. and found myself awash in anger over this clear injustice, in frustration over my inability to get anywhere, in plots involving hiring some high-priced lawyer eager to stand up for the little guy. For Pete’s sake, don’t I at least deserve an explanation from these people? Don’t I have a right to be treated with some respect, even though I’m among the tiniest of vendors?
Again and again, I’ve eventually calmed myself with scriptural truth – most notably, Romans 8’s assurance that my omnipotent, omniscient God makes all things “work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” I’ve seen this verse play out many times in my own life, and the lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ. How could I let a little thing like an unpaid invoice shake my confidence and disturb my rest?
On the worst nights, I would retreat to other biblical advice: Turn the other cheek. Store up your treasures in heaven. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, make your requests known to the Lord. Every man will give an account for every idle word on judgment day (so there will be ultimate justice for the creeps treating me like an ant at a picnic).
And so on. The Bible has a great deal to say about money and pride and enemies and the Lord’s unlimited power and unwavering love for His children. In fact, it addresses everything that could possibly concern us in this life.
Still, I kept waking up at 1 a.m., primed for another marathon of tossing and turning over the same old issue.
And then I came across the verse that has set me free. It’s Hebrews 10:34:
“For you … joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.”
That did it! In just a few words, the author of Hebrews reminded me that this silly little problem of mine is completely irrelevant in light of the eternal glory awaiting me in heaven.
Sure, there are other biblical passages that make the same point. But for some reason, it took this particular verse, and this particular set of circumstances, to reset my heart on the issue.
If you have a problem that’s driving you to distraction, turn to the word of God. Read it. Meditate on it. Embrace its teachings. And memorize those passages that speak to you most clearly about the issues you’re grappling with today; next time the torment threatens, you’ll be able to crush it immediately with His eternal truth.