I read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson at a difficult time of my life, with a great deal of pleasure, awe, delight, gratitude (and envy at the perfection of her writing style).
However, I did not remember this beautiful passage which Canadian writer Carolyn Weber points out.
This is an important thing, which I have told many people, and which my father told me, and which his father told him.
When you encounter another person, when you have dealings with anyone at all, it is as if a question is being put to you. So you must think, “What is the Lord asking of me in this moment, in this situation?”
If you confront insult or antagonism, your first impulse will be to respond in kind. But if you think, as it were, “This is an emissary sent from the Lord, and some benefit is intended for me, first of all the occasion to demonstrate my faithfulness, the chance to show that I do in some small degree participate in the grace that saved me,” you are free to act otherwise than as circumstance would seem to dictate.
You are free to act by your own lights. You are freed at the same time of the impulse to hate or resent that person. He would probably laugh at the thought the Lord sent him to you for your benefit (and his), but that is the perfection of the disguise, his own ignorance of it. (Gilead, HarperCollins 2004, p. 124)