“Iron sharpens iron, So, one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17) I would like to believe personally this proverb was written in a positive context of a good, healthy relationship with a friend or colleague who could share wisdom and experiences with another. But, I also have come to realize through the years of life that it is about adversity too. We believe the Word that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) So, that tells us this can even pertain to those sour relationships that are most painful and excruciating to our flesh.
Every difficult situation you find yourself in, is always an opportunity to learn more about who you really are on the inside. Difficult situations most always involve challenging people. Every challenging person you have had too, or are walking with, will also be used by God as a sharpening tool to perfect you according to The Masters design. Jesus is the great architect of one’s soul and spiritual building. His goal is to use life's hard places and circumstances to reveal Himself to us by the refining process I call people tribulation.
That one person that you say is a thorn in your flesh is the very one who was sent on a God assignment, oblivious to them, to bring out the best of Him in you. Difficult relationships are not always bad for you. They are necessary for the perfecting of one’s personal consecration and the development of one’s Godly character. They are a sharpening tool if one allows the sharpening, which was intended to make one better not bitter!
The biggest challenge of a child of God through the people tribulation test is offense. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” As a child of God, we must learn to forgive like Jesus and to love as He does. Loving like Jesus doesn't mean we condone unrighteousness or sin behavior, but there is a demand that we do forgive it. This means as I learn to love like Him, I must pray for challenging people and even my enemy to be made whole, choosing to continue to walk like Christ during the suffering and difficulties of the situation.
Many times, I find the one who buffers, is the one who is a propeller of your personal destiny. Even Jesus had a Judas in His life and Jesus never repaid evil for evil, but in the end Judas hung his own self, literally. Jesus always kept his heart pure through all the betrayal and people persecution. It says of Jesus that He made himself of no reputation, but took on a form of a servant. He had nothing in common with darkness and showed us all by example how to take up our cross in difficult situations.
As a child of God our life is to look like His, we should expect the challenges and trials that He endured to be a part of our Christ-like experience. Do not be surprised when they come and do not judge your brother while they are walking through them. For when it is time for your sharpening, you will also need the mercy and grace of God to endure the fire of affliction required for you to become like the Master.