Last year, we had quite a number of health issues in the family and Janet and I were glad to see the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve and leave 2023 behind us. But we are only a month in and so far, this year is already off to an odd start. The end of last year was rather busy and we were hoping to get a little rest this past January but it was not to be.
Admittedly, most of the issues this year have to do with being treated badly or wronged – and there is a very distinct part of me that wants to get even. There was the guy who filed false earnings reports a year ago and in the worst way, I wanted to contact the IRS and ask them to handle it. I decided against it and thought the matter was closed. That is until he filed another false earnings report this year and once again, I am plagued by what I want to do verses what I am called to do.
Even though that relationship ended in late January of last year, I wonder how long this guy is going to haunt me and create issues for us. So it doesn’t seem to be over yet. It reminds me of some of the issues that I watched my grandfather deal with almost 60 years ago.
Then, there is the ongoing issue that I have been thinking about for three or four years now. I admit that I get amped up when my family is wronged and there isn’t any direct course of action that I can take to make things better. In my humanness, I also admit that I sometimes let these things fester. I don’t really want to forgive and move on.
The problem with this line of thinking is that I am only hurting myself and I doubt that these “transgressors” are thinking tonight about how they have wronged me – or my family members.
I can’t help but remember the years that my ministry friends and I ran a career transition ministry, about twenty years ago. We were having a discussion with a number of people who were out of work and listening to the story of “Ron”, a pastor who lost his pulpit and with it, his parsonage, their friends and support network. In the midst of all this, Ron’s wife got sick and without insurance, the couple almost went bankrupt. Ron admitted that he was still angry about having lost their home and everything else that was important to them on this earth – and then the onset of his wife’s illness – without any insurance to help mitigate the financial damage.
When I asked him how long ago they had been wronged, he said, through sobs, eighteen… eighteen… eighteen… YEARS! Everyone there was surprised by the length of time that this nice member of our group had been suffering. We really thought he would say eighteen days, or even months, but years? That had to be brutal for Ron and his family.
You know what? I could see how I could let something like this bother me for years. But I don’t want to be like Ron. It was clear to see how deeply he had been hurt. Frankly, we are called to pray for those who have wronged us. In my own life, I need to do a better job to “let go and let God” deal with these issues.
Make no mistake – I have made progress throughout my adult life but every so often something comes up that I just can’t sweep under the rug. That’s when I should pray for those who have wronged me. Or, and I have a secret weapon here, I can call my dearest ministry friends and seek their counsel on what to do. Or at least listen to me while I rant…
After all, for more than twenty years now, we have been accountability partners and life has been made more fulfilling by having their input at times like these. But that still doesn’t mean that I am immune from human frailties.
Tonight’s verse is one that we are all familiar with. God reminds us, through the apostle Paul, in his book to the Romans, that we are to leave “getting even” to God. Paul tells us, in romans, 12_19-21, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Wow! That’s an incredibly high standard for me to achieve. My encouragement this evening is that it is God’s domain to handle the transgressions that have been done to us. This lifts the burden of a response from us. My prayer is that we can rededicate our efforts to confess our human frailties and depend on our Father to give us peace and joy. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…