Have you noticed that the older people get the more interested in history they become? That certainly is true of me, but I am also interested in trying to see history from God’s perspective; how has he been involved. With some of the terrible things humanity has done that is not always easy, but I’ve found that by reading Biblical history it can help with perspective.
For example if we were to read the history books description of ancient Assyria, we would see a kingdom of military might, advanced civilization and great accomplishment. But if viewed from a Biblical perspective we see God’s fingerprints in both their success and ultimate demise. In fact Isaiah paints the picture of God whistling for them, like you would a dog, and using them to discipline or train the Jewish nations on a spiritual level.
I would caution you against reading God’s judgement or punishment into every disaster, whether on a national or personal level, but there is a personal application we can take from this. In Hebrews 12 it talks about God disciplining us through the hard times we go through. We hear discipline and right away think punishment, but that isn’t the primary meaning of the word. Training and character development are more what is in mind.
As with the Assyrians and Israelites, one of the ways God disciplines us is through difficult people. These certainly include mean or hurtful people, but also people who are simply annoying and who drive you nuts. God is using these people in your life to develop your character. I heard one preacher refer to them as “Grace Growers.”
Who is a grace grower in your life? For heaven’s sake don’t go tell them, but don’t let them drive you nuts either. Instead thank God for the nature and character he is developing in you.