If God is for us, who can be against us? Who can be my foe if God is on my side?
There truly is an art to turning the other cheek; to sucking it up. When your cloak is demanded of you, to offering your tunic also. With those who would drive you a mile, criticizing your every footstep, walking two–as though their barbs had never stabbed you; as though their mouths had never chewed your dignity to a shred. An art, I say, to standing in the face of hatred and injustice, and believing with all your heart that Love will see you through.
I am strongest when I am forgiving the worst. It doesn’t matter if my heart feels drained of compassion, bereft of my lifeblood of patience. When I am lying in the dust of the battlefield, Jesus says that His grace is sufficient for me. When I am weak, then I am strong.
When I’ve swallowed back so much anger that I can no longer think straight or hunger for food, then I know that I have given the Lord room to work. I have allowed His promises (to fight my battles and be my rear guard) to become greater in my sight than any temptation to stumblingly retort, which would turn to strife in a heartbeat. The devil cannot break me to that temptation. Jesus said He will never forsake me. What do I care if others despise me, cheat me, or blame me? If the whole world were to call me dirt, I would still know the truth. I am marvelous in God’s eyes, and His precious treasure forever. His opinion is worth more to me than a million accolades from the kings of earth.
I am hard pressed on every side–
But not crushed.
But not in despair.
Yet not forsaken.
Struck down again and again–
But never destroyed.
Does any of this sound like your life? Here’s my advice: let yesterday be yesterday, and allow God to make those hurts fade from your memory. (Even now, these fresh injustices are receding from my consciousness; what need have I to remember things which are God’s sole responsibility?) Love, remember, “keeps no record of wrongs.” Allow Him to show you the beauty in those who do you wrong, and to show you the secret bitterness of their hearts (Proverbs 14:10).
And if it seems as though none of your forgiveness and good deeds have ever made a difference, remember that even silence can be a witness for Jesus. There have been times you have shown Christ to the world without even knowing it. And it did make a difference. One day you will perceive it.
On a typical workday, spending a ten-hour shift with some whose spirits are trapped in darkness, and some who are in too much pain to keep from hurting others, I am reminded that I am never alone. I am never forsaken. They may seem to band together, but it is I who am guarded by legions of angels, and whose God works from within me. His power NO foe can withstand. Jesus and I–we’re in this together.
Now, to the point. Why should I be faithful when I am routinely betrayed? Why should I offer my service to those who don’t value it? Why should I give honor when I am despised? Why should I reply softly to harsh words? Why should I show patience toward those who have none for me? Why should I forgive those who seek out every flaw in me?
Why should I love those who have none for me?
Answer: Because Jesus did all of that, for me.
When I forsook Him, He remained by my side. By my actions I told Him, “I would rather risk making a horrible mess of my life than seek victory your way.” Yet He followed patiently behind me, neatly sewing back together the tears I had thus created in the quilt of my life. Every day, He spent a thousand years thinking about me–even when I didn’t even make the time to say, “Good morning, Jesus.” He’s always made much of my every accomplishment, even when I was too self-absorbed to notice that my every gift came from Him. Though I have been discontented, proving by my actions that I believed God to be insufficient for my needs, he never once found fault with me. When I believed lies about Him, He remained faithful the to truth about me. In the days when I searched desperately in my heart for the love for God I knew should be there, and could not find any, His love for me never wavered.
That’s why I love those who would call themselves my enemies. That’s why I endeavor to show them the courtesy I show my friends. Because God loves my enemies and considers each of them worth His own blood. And one day, I know things will get better. I know God is taking care of me. I have His solemn promise that He works righteousness and justice for me when I am oppressed (Psalm 103). I can go to bed every night with a heart free of bitterness, and wake up in the morning ready to do it all again–swallow my pride, keep a smile on my face, and open my heart up. God is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, and I know everything will be all right.