If you bash me with a critical Facebook post, slamming my well-meaning efforts as ridiculous and telling others that I’m not worth a lick as a pastor, two things are going to happen.
First, I’m going to hurt. Second, I’m going to want to hurt you.
That’s human instinct telling us that revenge makes things better. To be honest, revenge can feel good to the fleshly DNA in our humanness.
And we see it work all the time on Netflix. Movies often succeed at the box office because of a plot dripping with revenge. “I know where to find you. And I’m going to _______.”
Perhaps you’ve experienced this rush of satisfaction from striking back. Like a well deserved victory over a trash talking rival.
But it doesn’t work all the time. Even when it feels good it’s not sustainable. The enemy will regroup and return. This is how lifelong feuds begin. It’s not worth it.
It’s like drinking your own poison. Don’t go there. “Do not take revenge” (Romans 12:19).
Yes, even the people of God become victims in this unfair world. Ex-husbands abuse kids and the courts don’t do anything about it. Bullies exert their ugly power over sweet, sensitive kids who just want to love Jesus and get along with everyone. Coaches or companies reward the bad behavior of others and don’t seem to notice your higher, more respectable morals and good behavior.
How should you handle it? God’s net. N-E-T. A good net doesn’t let anything through that it wants to catch, while allowing other things through that it doesn’t need. Like cheesecloth or the air filter in your car or what fishermen use.
Let God handle your victim-ness. Revenge will not work. God’s net will. Here it is: “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14).
God Notices—He sees that you’re a victim. Nothing escapes his watchful eye monitoring your life better than Google or Facebook algorithms. I know, I know, you find that hard to believe because if he notices then why hasn’t he _________. Answer: because he’s God and you’re not. Let him be God here. Know that he sees. Know that he notices. Thank him for that.
God Evaluates—Don’t miss this. God is not just evaluating the scene that makes you a victim, like a perfect crime detective who cannot ever get it wrong. What is he considering, contemplating, analyzing, and evaluating? What is he thinking about? Your grief. Not just the facts, but your feelings. Your hurt. Your pain. Your confusion. Your loneliness. Your helplessness. Your fear. Your guilt. He’s thinking about that more than you are. Because he cares (1 Peter 5:7).
God Takes Action—Yes, he does! Don’t argue with this, just because you’re still a victim, or because the perp got away with it, or because the drunk who T-boned your granddaughter didn’t go to prison. God’s actions are so complex we don’t understand them (Romans 11:34). Trust that he doesn’t miss anything. Remember that as a believer, you are his child. Parents act in many ways that their kids just can’t process correctly. God is active, working, and not sitting on his hands.
When you’re a victim—and at some point you will be—remember God’s N-E-T. Notices. Evaluates. Takes action. He catches you in it!
PRAYER: Dear God who cares, catch me in your net when I’m certain that revenge is the answer. Draw me into your embrace and hold me in your capable hands. Keep me from lashing out. And, God, defend all those who suffer terribly as victims in this world. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: What is a trouble you’re experiencing that feels like God doesn’t care? Reflect on God’s N-E-T about that trouble, and it will become a smaller trouble as your trust in God increases.