To stir up wrath and take revenge I put her blood on the bare rock, so that it would not be covered.
Or so you thought…I’m not sure what motivates some people. One would think that the promise of everlasting love and grace would be such an overwhelmingly wonderful gift to anticipate that we would never spend our time pursuing the things of this world. We wouldn’t spend so much of our time focusing on what is wrong with everyone else and wondering how we can consistently make their lives miserable. It isn’t enough for some people to have destroyed trust or even the expectation of love; no, they have to go one step further and try to make you and anyone else present believe that you deserved to be hurt. What causes people to be this way? Is it in everyone’s nature to be hurtful or is it an acquired taste? Maybe it comes from a lack of good parenting? Who knows?
One thing I’m sure of is that other people’s expectations for our lives will always fall short of God’s plan for us. Their idea of who we should be varies greatly from who really are in Christ and who He wants us to be. They would have us spend our lives stroking their egos and giving them everything they couldn’t get on their own. Whether this be money, popularity, sex, or just plain old attention. The problem is that we are not designed to be all things to all people. We are not the cause of everyone else’s misery. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we can see that everyone is responsible for their own mess. If we allow someone to manipulate us or to make us feel somehow inadequate, this is our problem. And the issue usually lies somewhere deep within our relationship to God and Jesus Christ. When we are insecure, it is because we are not grounded in His word. When we are in a constant state of upheaval, it is because we are living our lives outside of God’s will. When we are struggling, it’s because we are trying to follow what we want or what others want instead of what God wants for us. And so, He has to show us where we are wrong.
He gives us so many chances to do the right thing. As He did with Israel, back when He was preparing to destroy the wicked in Isaiah 56:1. He says, “Maintain justice, and do what is right, for my salvation is close at hand and my righteousness will soon be revealed.” Even better, He explains that the worship of idols (things like our money, our possessions, and our interests when taken too seriously) will reap no good thing in Isaiah 57:11-13. 11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared that you have not been true to me, and have neither remembered me nor taken this to heart? Is it not because I have long been silent that you do not fear me? 12 I will expose your righteousness and your works, and they will not benefit you. 13 When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But whoever takes refuge in me will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.”
In short, if your motives for concern are wrong, then your outcomes will reflect it. You may think you’ve won something because you got your digs in, but really you’ve just dug yourself into a deeper pit. It is only more obvious that you are not walking in love and that your interests are self-serving. God knows what you’re up to. You can’t hide that from Him. He sees everything. He knows everything. And He can definitely distinguish whose motives are pure. Never believe that you are so cunning that you can fool Him. So many times, people think that they are doing what is best for someone else because it “looks good” from the outside. Never mind that it has no substance or no basis in fact. It only reflects the most superficial part of the issue because we are working from the most superficial of morals, ethics and values. If it looks okay to everyone else, then that is good enough. Never mind that God wants us to dig deeper for our motivation than what will impress others or make us look like the ideal to those who have only our side from which to draw their conclusions. Trust me, if that’s all we are going for, that’s pretty much all we will ever get.
At one point, He explains that the “righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.” He was referring to death here, but as I read this, I believe it applies to our lives as well. As I thought about this passage, I reflected on times in my life when I didn’t understand what appeared to be a loss. I was caught up in regret and misery over something I believed to have failed at, but His word shed light on this for me. Sometimes, He will bring our misery to an abrupt end, often when we aren’t even aware that it is misery. And sometimes when we really don’t want it to end. When we look back, we can see that we have been delivered from something that would surely have consumed us. And God will not let that happen if we truly love Him and call on Him in our time of need. If we trust Him and we are genuinely trying to be what He wants us to be, even in our darkest hours, He will protect us. And those whom we are protected from will often do their best to convince us that we have somehow wronged them by being happy or at peace. Especially if they are confused about their own relationship with Him. Be aware of this when you feel like everyone is coming against you. It really isn’t you they are fighting…but because you are at least trying to walk in love, you’re an easy target.
In the end, it does no good to try to fight with those who tarry too long in the same battle. Perpetually stuck in some relentless cycle of “I told you so” and “it’s not my fault,” these are people who can only be happy when someone else is unhappy. For whatever reason, their need to act out overrides their desire for salvation. Only God can fix this. It is definitely what I call a “God-level” problem. And I’m happy to let Him deal with it.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.