About a year ago I was sitting in a Seattle coffee house, laptop open and working on correspondence. Two young college-age men were sitting at a table about two feet away. One of them made a rude remark that was obviously meant for my ear. He suggested to his friend that only a stupid old man would believe in God. I smiled at them and continued to work on my laptop.
Before leaving the café, I purchased two gift cards and asked the young woman to give it to the two young men sitting at the table next to mine, but only after I left.
About two weeks later, I again visited the same café. There they were, the two young men. They both came to my table asking if they could sit with me. I smiled broadly and said I would be delighted to have them join me. One of the young men then asked me why I’d purchased gift cards for them, when I’d obviously heard their slam against me.
I told them that God had told me to buy them the cards, and that the gifts were from God. One of the young men teared up and asked for my forgiveness. I told him I’d forgiven him the very moment he’d uttered those words because Christ loved them. How could I not love them, if God loved them? I asked.
God gives all of us chances to show his love for people. Sometimes the most unlovable are the very ones who need signs of love the most. Who knows the difference a kind word or a smile can have on the life of an individual who is rude or who is abusive? The most difficult people to deal with are often the very people who need our love and kindness the most. The angry neighbor or coworker can be turned around by being treated with respect and love, regardless of their behavior.
They are the people who need our prayers. God can change any heart, turning around the lives of the very worst people because of our prayers. Who are we to judge them? If God has placed them in our lives, we must look for the reason. Perhaps they are there because we need to learn the lesson of forgiveness and charity. Do we deserve God’s love more than they?