People are going to hurt you.
It hurts, even more, when the hurt comes from those who you love the most.
It is, unfortunately, the nature of a humanity that is deeply depraved and fallen, to hurt one another, to eat the wounded, to cause harm physically, emotionally, and mentally to those that we love or to be the recipient of this from those we love.
All we want is to see the ones who hurt us suffer. We want to see them get what is rightfully due them for their utter disregard for how they treated us. We want to see them fail at everything in life because after all, this would be justice.
But, how do we, as Christians, respond to someone that has utterly destroyed our lives and yet now they seem to be having all the success the world could offer? How do we respond when that person seems to be getting everything they want, while our world continues to crumble all around us?
I’m going through this right now with my father who abandoned my mother a few years back after nearly 40 years of marriage to pursue a relationship with a woman close to my age who was married with her own children.
I’ll be transparent for a moment – it hurts me to see him appear to be “happy”. In my mind, he doesn’t deserve it. He destroyed my mother and our family. Why should he get to be happy? Why should he get what he wants out of life while others seem to suffer?
So, I’m writing this blog for myself and my family as much as I am for others who may find themselves in a similar situation. I hope you can bear with me. I could be wrong on these things…but I’m trying to digest this, and writing is a great outlet for me. Not to mention, it may help others in their own processing.
I think in order to find a proper response we are going to need to ask and answer these three (3) questions:
- Who or what defines success?
- Who or what defines justice?
- How does their “success” impact my life without them?
Let’s take each question and try to answer them and see where they lead us.
WHO OR WHAT DEFINES SUCCESS?
The world has an idea of what success is. That is true. And what does that look like, according to the world? Well…it usually includes a nice house, a nice car, a good paying job, lots of money….well, it pretty much is all material…isn’t it?
But, as believers, we know that we can gain the whole world and lose our soul…and we would perhaps experience temporary success while sealing up for ourselves an eternity in a place of eternal torment. As the bible says:
Mark 8:36 NLT
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?
Short answer? NOTHING!
You benefit nothing to gain a temporary happiness based on material things while damning your eternal soul to an eternity separated from the God of the universe.
So, if the temporal joy found in material things does not define success, who or what does?
The bible tells us that success is defined by being in the middle of the will of God, being fully committed to Him, and being obedient to Him. When this happens, the Bible promises that God will give us the desires of our hearts…not because the desires of our hearts deserve to be met, but because the desires in our hearts will now reflect what God desires.
In 1 Kings 2, David told his son Solomon the following:
2 “I am going where everyone on earth must someday go. Take courage and be a man. 3 Observe the requirements of the Lord your God, and follow all his ways. Keep the decrees, commands, regulations, and laws written in the Law of Moses so that you will be successful in all you do and wherever you go.
Notice that TRUE success hinges on being in the center of God’s will, being obedient to Him, and committing all we do in honor of and to Him.
God defines success. Not us. Not the world. God alone defines it. So, as we watch our loved ones who betrayed us seeming to find happiness in the temporal material things or people of this world in the middle of their sin, they are not actually being successful. They are finding their joy in something OTHER than God. Their sin will catch up to them. It may be soon. It may be later. It may be after they pass on to eternity. But it will catch up to them. And their “success” is only temporary as it is rooted in sin and evil desires.
Now, we could stop there and that would be pretty heartless. Not gonna lie. As believers, our desires must also include redemption and restoration. We should desire that those who hurt us will seek forgiveness from God and find redemption and restoration. We should not, as God does not, desire that any man should perish outside of His will and find themselves in the place of eternal torment.
Which brings us to the next point:
WHO OR WHAT DEFINES JUSTICE?
If God defines success, it would stand to reason that He also defines justice. And God’s justice will be carried out in His own time. He promises us that. Unfortunately for us, when we are still reeling from the pain of being hurt we desire swift and immediate justice. We want revenge. We want something to happen so that they too will suffer like we are.
But here is what the bible says about revenge:
Romans 12:19 ESV
19 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.”
As hard as it is to wait on God, we are promised by God that He will avenge us. We don’t have to avenge ourselves. When we remain faithful to God and we are treated unjustly by others, God will mete out justice for us.
It will be on His time.
It will be in His ways.
But it WILL happen.
This is the promise of God with regard to justice:
Isaiah 61:8 NLT
“For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them.
If you are a child of God, He has made a covenant with you to bring justice to those who do wrong to you, who rob you of your joy and your life. He promises to repay them for their evil and reward you for your suffering. THIS is what justice looks like, and when God brings justice, no man ought to desire to be the recipient of that justice.
And now, for the final question, which is more of a personal question than anything.
HOW DOES THEIR SUCCESS IMPACT MY LIFE?
IF we are truly honest with ourselves, this person has made it their decision to exit our lives, not the other way around and their success no longer has any bearing on my success. Their success no longer has any impact on my success.
The only reason I care about whether or not they succeed in life is because I have to watch someone who seriously hurt me walk around with a smile on their face as though I was the one who hurt them and they are now finally happy without me.
So in reality, we’re simply holding tightly to a grudge when we look at their success and have to fight back cursing them up and down for being happy when they hurt me.
In other words, let them be successful in the eyes of the world. I know who defines success and I know who metes out justice, and in both instances, this person doesn’t stand a chance unless they fall on their face in humble repentance before Almighty God.
Now, I want to point out that I mentioned redemption and restoration earlier. And, it is at this point that, should this person determine to humble themselves before God, turn from their evil ways, and seek His forgiveness…that WE ought to, as God will most assuredly do, desire redemption and restoration for this person.
This is probably the hardest of all truths to face in this blog. But the reality is, this person is no different from who we WERE when we were lost and sinners. We too sought joy and fulfillment from others and from things that were not God. And God saw fit to pull us out of our disaster and put us firmly back on our feet and give us a new life. If He did that for us, He will most assuredly do that for another.
If He did that for us, He will most assuredly do that for another. And we should actually rejoice in that thought. Because that was the whole reason Jesus came to this earth, and the whole reason we are even able to sit here and have this discussion.
Look, I’m not saying I have this mastered. I’m still wrestling with it too. But even in writing this I’m finding it to be a healing balm on a deep wound. I hope you will too.
I will pray for you, whoever you are, that you will find peace in your situation and that God will send justice for the wrong committed against you. But I will also pray that he soften your heart (as well as mine) for those who have walked away from us or from the faith, and that we can find healing despite the hurt.