I doubt there is a person who ever lived who has not been misunderstood. It is a tragic flaw of our humanity. We misunderstand others and they misunderstand us, too. We may respond in several ways. We may sulk, grow angry, isolate ourselves away, or counter-attack with our words; or we may see the other person as someone like us, who is imperfect and makes mistakes just as we do. We may refuse to sulk, and especially we may refuse to counter-attack. Name calling is never wise. It is ungodly and never makes us feel any better. Counter attack is a punishment to the other person that bounces back stabbing us in our own hearts.
When we look into God’s Word, the place where we find help and direction, we also see that others were misunderstood. Jesus was misunderstood. The crowds were praising Him one moment and calling for His death the next. The same thing happened with Paul. We read in Acts 14 that he and Barnabas were misunderstood, praised to be gods in human form, but when they explained there were followers of Christ, Paul was stoned nearly to death.
The greatest leaders on earth have been misunderstood throughout the centuries: Jesus, Paul, Noah, Moses, Job, Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Socrates…the list goes on. Being misunderstood is nothing we can avoid, but it is something we can let God use to strengthen our faith. Throughout the Bible, when we read of its characters being misunderstood, we also read of their first responses. They found comfort through calling to their Heavenly Father. They found peace and even great joy in the most harrowing of moments, when they focused on their Heavenly Father, rather than on the one causing them to suffer.
When David was misunderstood, falsely accused, and even hunted to be killed, he wrote in Psalm 56:3-4, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. I praise God for what He has promised. I trust in God so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” King Saul wanted to kill David, such was his misunderstanding of him, but amazingly, David refused to be thwarted in his thoughts. He would not let his mind be captive to negativity. He did not succumb to a defeatist attitude; rather, he kept his focus on the One who could be his help and courage. He took those depressing thoughts and he looked up. In Psalm 121:1-2, David asks and answers his own question, “I look to the mountains, does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
When you and I are misunderstood, the tendency is to retaliate or explain. Sometimes no explanation will satisfy the one who is misunderstanding you. Even the words of Jesus to the religious leaders of the day fell on deaf ears. Jesus often went to a quiet place to pray. What a powerful example to us. When we are misunderstood, let us first look up. Let us glean strength from our Father’s presence and from the truth of His words to us.
When we are misunderstood and look out, we only see negativity. When we look up, we see all things possible — we see Jesus — our everything to get us through anything.