Some years back, He brought this principle home to me in a particularly meaningful way, in the process changing my response to a perceived violation of my rights (a perennial problem for a recovering feminist like me).
Here’s what happened.
I spent most of my 40-year career as a freelance writer who worked extensively with one of the world’s largest corporations. This particular company was never quick to pay. And its Accounts Payable people always rewarded themselves with a “fast payment” discount even when it took them six months or more to pay a bill. But it was my largest client by far, so I couldn't really complain; at least I knew that they would pay me eventually.
But suddenly, towards the end of my working days, that changed. My last invoice was ignored completely; it didn’t even show up in this company’s online vendor-accounting system.
To make matters worse, the person who'd hired me for this last spate of projects had been forcibly retired, and his supervisor was not at all helpful; in fact, over the course of an entire year (yes, year!) she 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.
It wasn't a crippling amount of money that I was owed. Viewed in light of all they had paid me over the years, it was practically nothing.
Still, I lost plenty of sleep over this issue. Many nights, I woke 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, didn’t I at least deserve an explanation from these people? Didn’t I have a right to be treated with some respect, even though I was among the tiniest of vendors?
Most nights, I was ultimately able to calm myself with scriptural truth – especially 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 would be ultimate justice for the creeps who were 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 set me free. It was 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 pesky little problem was completely irrelevant in light of the eternal glory awaiting me in heaven.
Sure, there are other biblical passages that make similar points. But for some reason, it took this particular verse, and this particular set of circumstances, to reset my heart.
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 may be able to crush it immediately with His eternal truth. And maybe even find relief from the most relentless insomnia.