Who doesn’t enjoy a good story of the underdog finally getting his day? When evil is overcome by good and the bad guy gets what’s coming to him. But what if this isn’t a movie or TV show and instead, it’s your own circumstances. When the one who wronged you suffers and you can’t help but feel a little bit of personal satisfaction.
What does God say about all of this?
The Lord judges the peoples; vindicate me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me (Psalm 7:8).
Here’s the thing about these verses, the ones that make us feel good because God is on our side and He’s all about vindicating us…there is always more to it than the other person getting what’s coming to them.
It’s easy to lay claim to scripture where God comes through for us. Yet we neglect the portion of scripture that talks about “our righteousness” and “our integrity”. In the midst of being wronged, have we remained true to righteousness and integrity? Can we say that our handling of the situation has been Christ-like? And do we really think that God’s vindication is supposed to bring us some sort of sick pleasure?
Could it be that true victory isn’t a matter of the other person getting what’s coming to him? That instead it’s a resolution in which both sides come together in peace?
When someone wrongs us—especially if it’s done over and over again—our first instinct isn’t usually reconciliation. It’s “God, get ‘em.”
Or maybe that’s just me.
God sometimes surprises us. For months I was sure that vindication was the answer to some difficult people in my life. Anytime things seemed to finally go against them, I would secretly rejoice (okay, sometimes I did verbalize it). Yes, I know…very unChrist-like. But I justified that satisfaction by recounting all the things they’d done to me and my family. I don’t think anyone would argue that their behavior was in the wrong. Yet that’s not where God wanted me to park my thoughts.
As-a-matter-of-fact, God would show me victory over vindication in a way I never expected. It wasn’t going to be the satisfaction of the other side getting what was coming to them. It wouldn’t even be a matter of things going my way. Instead, God was going to take an awful situation and turn it into a complete miracle. And I don’t say that lightly.
I can’t really say I’ve ever had an “enemy” in my life. Sure, I’ve had people who rubbed me the wrong way, and those I can’t get along with. But a TRUE enemy, not something I’ve experienced. Yet that is what a couple of people had become. Keep in mind the definition of an enemy is “a person who is actively opposed or hostile to someone or something.” The opposition and hostility against my family was definitely active—for well over a year.
When peace is made with an enemy, that my friend, is a miracle. Vindication wasn’t God’s plan in our circumstances. Victory would come, instead, through reconciliation. Not “let’s be friends and hang out” kind of reconciliation. But “let’s be at peace” because it’s in the best interest of a young life. I may not like you and you may not like me but we can still do this—even to the point of awkwardly sitting at a table together eating ice cream with that young life who is more positively affected by peace than conflict.
No one could have convinced me more than a year ago that this would happen. Not because I wouldn’t think God is able to orchestrate this type of thing…but that I would never agree to it. Because how do you sit down with someone who has caused your family grief and stress? How do you make nice with someone who hasn’t been nice?
Only God can turn what you thought you wanted—vindication—to victory. Because nothing is more victorious than making peace with others.