Pain. Pain is something we all face in this life, in this world. We spend years learning how to cope with it. There are different kinds of pain. For instance the pains of circumstances. Pain beyond our control or that of anyone else. That pain that makes you feel helpless because there is nothing you can do to change it. It comes at us in so many ways, and just when we feel that we have learned how to cope, we are crushed, run down, and trampled under foot. So we must learn again to rise up from the ground, dust ourselves off, and keep on going. Those of us who learn to do this, can rise above and pursue those things we desire without fear. We know we will likely get hurt in the process, but we have learned not to fear the pain. So there will be nothing that keeps us from our destination.
However, there is another kind of pain. Also part of the pains of life, but one that is not so easily overcome as the first. Pain that comes through the hands of another of our fellow men. A human being that brings pain into your life is not as easily dismissed as the pain itself. The actual pain that was caused, interestingly, often seems to lose focus. Instead all we can see is the face of this . . . person, this individual, this . . . monster. This obviously evil creature that must be so depraved as to be capable of inflicting such devilish and wicked acts. You see? They cease to be human in our estimation. We demonize them, and thus we can be justified in whatever equally devilish acts we seek to enact upon them, and all, of course, under the majestic and noble banner of “justice.” How delicate the line between revenge and justice.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’” ~ Romans 12:19
A hard one to swallow. That is for sure. When it seems that the Hand of God does nothing, and those that have blood on their hands walk free. The laugh and shout and smile. They dance about like fools, splattering those around them with the wet blood still fresh on their hands. And those around simply stand and look on. They see the evil before them and yet they do NOTHING!! It is in those moments when it is hard to see the hand of “justice” at work. But it is those times most of all when we must seek the face of Christ.
We can become so lost in our anger and rage, that we fail to see the power of God at work. We fail to see the picture from His perspective. You see, Jesus loves the one that raped that woman. Jesus loves the one who murdered that child. Jesus loves the one who kidnapped that girl and sold her into slavery. Jesus loves . . . you. He loves me. He loves . . . period. And if we call ourselves Christians we ought to do the same. We are commanded to do the same. It is not easy. So very far from it, but since when has the degree of difficulty been the determining factor about whether or not it should be done?
Truly, we must love our enemies. What a command. But through His Holy Spirit we can. In our own strength, we can only fail. Our flesh screams at us for revenge, for justice. Our hearts cry out for those used and abused at the hands of these wicked and evil “beasts.” But that is not God’s heart. Yes, He sees their sin, and He hates it. He abhors it, more than we can ever know. He is Pure and Holy beyond anything we can imagine, and He is love. His compassion for those who are victims knows no bounds, but His love falls upon the just and the unjust. So must ours.
The power of forgiveness is something I do not think we fully understand. To literally take the evil of a person and turn it completely around into a beautiful and wonderful work of our Creator?! Wow. Only God is capable of that. But, you say, how then can we do something like that? If we are truly believers, then we have the Spirit of Christ within us, and are therefore empowered to do all the Christ did on earth, and “even greater things than these” can we do, when we walk in His will. Forgiveness is what true justice is for us. Not revenge.
Forgive, and forget. As far as the east is from the west we must put away the wrongs of others, just as our Lord does with our own wrongs.
Father, may it be so. Let us walk in Your footsteps, and begin to walk in a fuller knowledge of Your love and forgiveness.