Does God Send Negative People into Our Lives?

As a leader, it seems that no matter what you do, a few people will find fault. Even if you were standing on a corner, handing out free money, someone would complain.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Vasko, Image #1624654

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Vasko
  • “What about the people that didn’t know you were going to hand out free money? You’re not being fair.”
  • “You’re not giving away enough to make a difference!”
  • “You’re encouraging laziness!”

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The list goes on.

Honestly, I used to resent these types of negative people. They sometimes still hurt my feelings—especially the ones that call my motives into question. But over the years my skin has gotten thicker. (No comments on my midriff area, please!)

However, I have come to the conclusion that nothing truly good goes unopposed. Jesus Himself said,

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11, 12)

But what if it’s more than God merely allowing negative into our lives? What if he actually sends them? Before you dismiss this idea, consider two stories from the Bible.

The patriarch Joseph was ridiculed, kidnapped, and then sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was later falsely accused of attempting to seduce the wife of a high-ranking, Egyptian official. He spent several years in prison and was eventually vindicated.

He could have been very angry with his brothers. Years later, when he finally meets up with them again, he is in a position of tremendous power. He could easily have had his revenge. Instead, Joseph said to them,

Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Genesis 50:19–20)

Or consider King David, who was chased out of Jerusalem by his treasonous son, Absalom. If that weren’t bad enough, a character named Shimei meets him on the road and starts throwing rocks at him. He curses the king and reminds him of all his sins. He says,

Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The LORD has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!” (2 Samuel 16:7, 8)

Abishai, one of David’s servants, said, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!” But note how David responded:

Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” (2 Samuel 16:11, 12).

It’s easy to resent negative people. But what if God has a deep and important purpose for sending them—something that He intends for our good because He truly loves us.

Question: What possibility is present when you encounter negative or difficult people that is not present at other times? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.roccocapra.com/blog Rocco

    Also take note that God never allows anything to happen to us that we cannot handle. God believs and knows that [you] have what it takes. It just may be that He is telling you that. How many times have we said to our children “good job, I knew you could do it” (a lot I hope).

  • http://www.roccocapra.com/blog Rocco

    Also take note that God never allows anything to happen to us that we cannot handle. God believs and knows that [you] have what it takes. It just may be that He is telling you that. How many times have we said to our children “good job, I knew you could do it” (a lot I hope).

  • http://www.twitter.com/12hourhalfday Brian Darnell

    Negative and hateful people offer the opportunity to practice patience, understanding, and love. It is more difficult to seek out opportunities to bestow these gifts; when the negative seeks you out is an opportunity to love, not hate being bestowed upon you.

  • http://www.roccocapra.com/blog Rocco

    Also take note that God never allows anything to happen to us that we cannot handle. God believs and knows that [you] have what it takes. It just may be that He is telling you that. How many times have we said to our children "good job, I knew you could do it" (a lot I hope).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/madrigals madrigals

    I completely agree. I was thinking of Joseph, then you wrote it. :) If I can quote Beth Moore, who says, and I'm paraphrasing: God does not put us in a position where he brings out the best in us until we've been in situations where he can first bring out the worst in us. Many times putting us in situations with difficult people who will literally bring out (up and out) the worst in us.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/madrigals madrigals

    I completely agree. I was thinking of Joseph, then you wrote it. :) If I can quote Beth Moore, who says, and I'm paraphrasing: God does not put us in a position where he brings out the best in us until we've been in situations where he can first bring out the worst in us. Many times putting us in situations with difficult people who will literally bring out (up and out) the worst in us.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/madrigals madrigals

    I completely agree. I was thinking of Joseph, then you wrote it. :) If I can quote Beth Moore, who says, and I'm paraphrasing: God does not put us in a position where he brings out the best in us until we've been in situations where he can first bring out the worst in us. Many times putting us in situations with difficult people who will literally bring out (up and out) the worst in us.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/ponderthis ponderthis

    Rubbing up against people who are hard to love seems to be the primary way to that God builds me into a better lover – which seems to be His primary purpose for me. Negative people are essential in the school of love.

    • http://sandraking-beholding-god.blogspot.com/ Sandra King

      Joyce Landorf calls people in our lives who really bug us "Irregular People." She wrote a whole book about them.

      I call them sandpaper.

      And maybe I'm theirs.

  • sam

    have lived w/ my brother for four years and he is the most negative, pessimistic guy on the planet. he claims to be a Christian, goes to church every week, and goes to "outreaches" in mexico about once a month yet treats me w/ little respect and says some things that make you scratch your head. the positive is that the personal growth resulting from this thorn has been incredible. is it enjoyable? absolutely not but as long as the Spirit is producing fruit i say hallelujah!

  • Cintia

    wow. thanks for this, I really needed to hear it. the word that sticks with me is “possibilities.” I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  • Anonymous

    Difficult people remind me that my validation has to come from God and from God alone. Furthermore, God has used difficult people to expose areas of my life that have not been surrendered to God. Every time I try to deal with a difficult person in my own wisdom (and pride), it is a train wreck.

  • Bridget

    It is an opportunity to do the most important thing that we have to do here on earth… to love, even if we don’t feel like it!

  • J. Barry Watts

    I’ve given up my enemies. Maintaining them is just too costly. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1383965280 Tim Young

    I have to come to call them “sand paper people” ;) …I don’t always like negative people, but I have learned on many occasions that God used them to shape character flaws in me.

  • Anonymous

    I think you are exactly right — that God at times sends negative people into our lives. I think it is to make us “more perfect in love.”  It is much harder to love a negative person.  But we need to learn to love all people, thus we have to learn how to love negative people too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/angie.kinsey1 Angie Kinsey

    Yes. They’re called ‘sandpaper for the soul’ ;)

  • Karenselliott

    Some of the people you encounter in your professional life are just negative – all the time. They are always having a bad day, bad things are always happening to them, they whine and groan about every challenge or bit of bad news. I try to avoid these people; at times I try to turn them around, point out the silver lining. Some people are just having a bad day, or have received disappointing news – that’s when you say, “What can I do to help you today?” Every challenge a person faces is an opportunity to learn something new.

  • Timothy Fish

    The great thing about negative people is that they are the ones who bring into focus those things we didn’t consider. When we have a great idea, we’re often blinded to everything except what we are hoping to accomplish. Negative people see those things and remind us that nothing in life goes smoothly. What they tell us can prepare us for the difficulties we’ll encounter with what we’re trying to do.

  • Gshingleton

    Although you make some very good points, I still cannot believe that God actually sends negative people into our lives.  While we definitely have the opportunity to grow during adverse citcumstances, the possibility of sinning also exists.  Following that line of thought I would like for you to consider James 1:13: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man”. 
    Just my thoughts on it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CFU6WQVPYUIA6XL4ZXIRVUYAPY Marie

    I am telling you, it’s not easy to deal with these people, especially when they are in the church and should know better. Last week Sunday night, my motive was called into question. I am a Sunday Sch. Superintendent. Last year, I gave out gifts to the children. Two parents complain about the gifts one year later and got other people involved. One of my accuser said, “no effort was put in buying the gifts and I bought cheap gifts from Dollarama. I was hurt, because of the effort and sacrifice that was made in buying the gifts. You can’t please people.

  • http://www.themlmattorney.com/about Kevin Thompson

    This post reminds me of the quote: “Metal is worthless until it’s shaped and tempered.”  

    This is a wonderful article, Michael.  I believe God sends challenging people into our lives to hone our focus and clarify our purpose.      

  • Iambclarke

    Negative people if we are mature enough can allow us to re-evaluate and not condemn ourselves.

  • mom2five

    The possibility of personal growth and walking in obediance rather than people pleasing as you face the difficult person with grace and truth. If that person chooses to believe the worst in you or assign motives to your actions, there’s humility gained in taking the high road as you learn to trust HIM like Joseph did. I am also learning how to set healthy boundries that I  did not realize I was absent of in a relationship with a family member. 

  • http://levittmike.wordpress.com levittmike

    A negative person can weigh on your morale, and change your outlook on things if you’re not careful.  However when I encounter negativity, I first listen to what they’re saying, as a checks & balances method against what I’m proposing to implement.  

    Many times, they’re just negative people and would argue about the color of the sky, but sometimes their points are valid and need consideration.

  • Libby Butero

    Learning to handle negative people creates character, offers the opportunity to prove the principles of God and teaches you, if you are patient, that holding steadfast in doing what is right (hopefully you are doing something right) will eventually bring its own reward and negative people really can’t stop godly principles from producing.  This works spiritually and naturally. I’m a witness!

  • Tcseibert

    I think God sends “different” folks into our lives to illuminate faults and to humble us. Also, to teach how to deal with difficult people in a Godly way. The same reason God gives us siblings we don’t always get along with.

  • Frank Chimento

    The realization that you get to choose whether or not you’re going to actually walk your talk. God is not glorified by how we’re knocked down or by our circumstances, He is glorified by how we lean on Him to stand back up… every time and He is glorified by how we trust in Him as we choose how we’ll respond to our circumstances. 

  • Kerstin

    I think from each people you meet in your life you should learn something. Especially from those you don´t like in their behavior or attitudes. Because it is a mirror for you. Things you don´t like by people, you often don´t like by yourself. You need to believe that you are loved by God and self-confidence to learn from them.
    Best wishes
    Kerstin 

  • Mark

    I sometimes have to ask the same question about positive people. :)

  • Jeffparker

    Great point. Question, are we willing to be the negative person? A point brought out in the book #KillingtheChurch

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  • Larry

    No, negative people come into your life because choices that you and that person made previously caused the two of you to come together. God doesn’t exist.

    • Romey

      Wow a negative person. Thanks for the practice of dealing with ilk like you.

  • Mrs M

    I praise God for this article. I just wanted to read something that could encourage me on how to deal with the negative people in my work place.

  • Laurel Griffith

    Sometimes negative people and difficult experiences are allowed by God. Sometimes they are sent by God. I don’t have to understand the reason to reap the benefit. If I am willing, God will use every encounter to make me more like Jesus.

  • Ben Matthews

    If you never get negative feedback, whether legitimate or not, you probably aren’t doing anything really significant. Producing a large harvest requires resiliency (Prov 14:4).

  • Teresa

    Very
    thought provoking post, so many thanks for passing it along. To answer
    the question at the end….One thing I’m working on is seeing every frustration
    as an opportunity to practice some virtues. We all know that the only way
    you get better at something is to practice and I have certainly prayed for
    patience and the ability to exemplify God’s love. I’m trying to remind myself that
    every time someone doesn’t do what I want them to (like my kids), I am being
    given an opportunity to practice those qualities that I’ve asked for.
    (These frustrations are also a lesson in humility: Other people were
    put on this earth to fulfill their purpose, not to make me happy.) This
    post has fed my thought process about my “opportunities to practice.”