Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The thing on my mind tonight is God’s faithfulness. Great Is Thy Faithfulness is my all time most favorite song because it’s the song of my life. I want it sung (a cappella, by a certain woman named Jessica- and you know who you are) on the day of my funeral, which, God willing, is no day soon.
I remember the day the Lord revealed to me, through this song, in the midst of the most devastating time of my life, that He would see me through. He would honor my faithfulness to obey Him even when I didn’t feel like I possibly could. It meant I would have to deal with, in a healthy manner, a LOT of justified anger, I would have to not seek revenge, I would have to forgive in the face of the worst kind of rejection, abandonment and betrayal. Yes, it seemed impossible to be like Jesus in those long endless days of pain. I wanted to wound back. I wanted to fight. I wanted to say cruel things and throw things. And no one would blame me. I wanted to shred his heart into bits as he had done mine. I was so full of righteous anger that I could spit nails. And it was destroying- me.
During those dark days, He promised me that if I chose His way- if I put my own desires and emotions aside, sought out and obeyed His will for my actions until I received a word from Him, confirmed that word through my faithful 5 great friends and accountability partners- that He would prove Himself faithful. He would heal my pain. He would restore the years of the locust. He said revenge was His and not mine. He said I was called to do nothing but deal with my anger and forgive. If I act in an ungodly way and hold it against my ex-husband forever, I am saying the cross is not enough to cover his sin. Ouch.
And I was to keep my eyes on my own heart. Ugh- it was so easy to blame him. After all- look what he had done to me, to his own children! Yet, it was my heart the Lord wanted to purify. It made me so mad- that he would get away with it and I had to be kind. It seemed impossible. And it was. I surrendered. He had to do it in me. And He did.
There it is again- action required, then He responds.
I said yes, Lord. It was at a time in my life that every dream I had for my future was in the process of being utterly shattered. I was devastated at the thought of losing everything I’d always wanted and even more devastated about the pain the calamity before me was going to put squarely on the backs of my children. (This still hurts!) And all I could see was the evil that had been done to me. He was getting away with it. I had to forgive. No fair!
Nope, life isn’t fair. And sometimes we won’t see justice until we get to heaven. But none of that matters. In the scope of life, all that truly matters is our personal relationship with the Lord and nothing. NO THING gives us a free pass to be mean, to be unkind, to be selfish, to be any of those things that are the opposite of the fruit of the spirit. No one else’s behavior justifies our own behavior before the Lord. We cannot excuse what we do that is not as Jesus would do because someone else has done something worse to us. It doesn’t mean we will be perfect in this. It means that when we are imperfect, we are willing to own it and deal with it and confess it and ask for forgiveness- even if they don’t.
This is where the rubber hits the road with our faith. Who are we when we are being mistreated? How do we respond? What is our commitment as Christians? We don’t get any free card to be mean, to be cruel, to be unkind, to speak hurtful words. We are accountable.
I bought those huge red plastic kiddie bats at Walmart and when my children were asleep, I beat my bed with them, as hard as I could, to dispel the ENERGY that anger brings with it. It’s energy. And the energy has to be dispelled in some safe way before the circumstance can be processed mentally and emotionally in a Godly way. At least that has been my experience. Once dispelled, it’s much easier to deal with the circumstance. It’s an amazing piece of understanding and it can save so much pain. Rip a phone book. Write a letter and burn it. Get in the car and scream. Do whatever you need to do to dispel your anger energy- BUT do not sin. Don’t be mean. Don’t be ungodly in the face of ungodliness or you are no different than the one that has hurt you. And you add fire to the flame and the flame causes even more burns.
Here’s another scripture that is life-changing:
2 Cor: 5-6 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.
Note the cause and effect. The first part is self-evident. (Selah) The second- The Lord will punish any disobedience that is in your path or has been done to you WHEN YOUR obedience is complete. If you want God to take care of the one that has done you wrong, know that He expects you to be Godly first.
Why is this? Well, if we are holding the rights to the injustice, then it is on our plate and not His. It’s only when we take the injustice and hand it to HIm, make it His, and free ourselves of the right, that He can take charge and deal with the other guy. And trust me, He’s MUCH better at bringing the other guy to his or her knees than any of us are. We have to remain in Him, acknowledge our anger or hurt and not deny it, face it, deal with it in a Godly manner, and forgive. That’s what makes us different from the rest of the world.
Ultimately, those locust ridden years of mine have been restored. The Lord told me the second half of my life would be better than the first and He has followed through on that promise in innumerable ways, in amazing ways.
And along the way, what I discovered as I strived to be obedient in the worst of times, was grace towards my ex-husband and slowly, slowly opened eyes to what a large part of our marriage failing was my responsibility. To see the sin in others is easy. To face our own sometimes takes extreme pain. And for some, it never happens. Humility is a requirement to walk in truth. Praying for it guarantees He will bring it your way. It might cause pain but in the end, it brings peace and freedom.
Takeaway: The Lord doesn’t excuse our behavior because someone else’s behavior was worse. We are accountable to His standard, not a relative one. We cannot ignore our anger- justified or otherwise. We have to tell ourselves the truth and find healthy ways to disseminate the energy associated with it so that we can move on and put the grievance on the throne and release it so that we are free. This allows God to deal with it as He sees fit and His ways are greater than ours.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray for humility. I pray that I would not see myself as any better or any worse than You see me. Please reveal any hurt anger in me that I may have buried so that I can dispense of it. And Lord, keep me from speaking unkindly, from acting out of any malice, any cruelty, any revenge. Set me free by the knowledge that the cross was big enough. Please don’t allow me to act as though it weren’t.