That’s a word I used to live for. You did me wrong, I would figure out a way to get you back. Getting even. There’s an intrinsic problem with this point of view. Took me years to understand this. You do something that hurts me. Physically or emotionally, or both. I retaliate and hurt you. You, or someone close to you, retaliated back …. and the cycle gets caught up into itself and becomes self-perpetuating. The lesson I needed to learn was that revenge was not for me to seek out.
“Therefore, the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the Mighty One of Israel, says, “I will take revenge on my enemies and pay back my foes! I will raise my fist against you. I will melt you down and skim off your slag. I will remove all your impurities. ….Zion will be restored by justice; those who repent will be revived by righteousness.” – Isaiah 1:24-25, 27 NLT (http://bible.com/116/isa.1.24-27.NLT)
It’s a difficult thing to do, that letting go of the desire for revenge. Instead of spending our time and our energy go after those who hurt us – and if we face reality, we know that every human we interact with has the ability to hurt us. If we know them for longer than a few minutes, in all probability they will hurt us in some way. Most of the time, it’s probably not intentional, it’s just human nature. Our job is not revenge. Our job is forgiveness.
Um, excuse me. What?? Not possible, you say? Let me confuse you a little more. Jesus shared His wisdom with us. “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” – Matthew 5:6 NLT (http://bible.com/116/mat.5.6.NLT) Now He’s tell me to “hunger and thirst for justice….”
We have to look at the distinction between between revenge and justice. Revenge is all about me. It’s about my satisfaction, and nothing to do with God and His Righteousness. Justice is found in consequences for our actions, with the results of the actions being looked at through impartial eyes. Since the Lord is the only one who can truly be impartial, that takes the punishment out of our hands and destroys our desire for revenge. We, as Christians, are tasked to forgive as Christ Jesus forgave us. On my own it is impossible. I absolutely have to rest in His arms and let go of the hatred and bitterness and anger. That leaves Him free to seek justice for me from the Father.
“But you don’t understand! My situation is different from anyone else’s! The hurt and damage done to me is unforgivable!”
Those words fall from almost everyone’s mouth when they begin the journey to forgiveness and healing. As a sponsor and group leader in a recovery group for women, I heard it from all of my ‘girls’. I said it myself when I began my journey. Your situation may be unique, but your circumstance and your feelings are not. If that’s too brutal for you right now, I’m not trying to hurt you any more than you already are. To heal, though, we not only have to hear the truth, we have to accept it and embrace it. When a wound is deep and infected, it has to be opened up and cleaned. It’s a painful process! If you just cover it up and ignore it, it was fester and fill with infection and stink. You aren’t hiding anything from God, and you probably aren’t hiding it from people around you, either. Like I said, wounds stink when unattended!
Look up. Look outside of yourself. See what God is doing. See the possibilities of what He can do. The only thing holding me back is me, and the only thing holding you back is you. Be thankful. Write a gratitude list – it’s a powerful thing to do! If you honestly can’t think of anything to write, do as my friend says. You can always be thankful for toilet paper, and you should always be thankful for God’s Mercy.