You know all those verses in the Bible about how God is on our side, and how He is a God of righteous indignation and vengeance and wrath, executing judgement on all the evil people in the world? Rock and roll. For Christians, those are our fighting words! We use those verses when “how art they increased who trouble me” (Psalm 3) send us nasty texts, write passive-aggressive Facebook posts, overcharge us for an unnecessary transmission flush, or when we know darned well everyone stopped talking when we walked into the room.
We cry out to God things like, “Lord, You said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord!!!'”(Romans 12:19) as we are mentally focusing on that person’s face and imagining how it will look when Jesus storms into their lives and flips their self-righteous spiritual money changer’s tables. Oh yes. Jesus is my Mighty Warrior and He’s going to call 10,000 angels to smite you, white-washed sepulcher! “But Thou, O Lord art a shield for me!” You know how it goes. Just me?
Well, I have learned, through a series of dead-end prayers, that God isn’t actually Team Alicia. He’s not Team Jerk either. God is on His side, the side of His will for His Kingdom, and His side is the one where His definition of truth, righteousness and justice rule and reign, not ours. We choose to be on His side, but we are also free to choose our own side, in which case, God speed your way. So, when “many are they who rise up against me” act like heathens, I have to keep in mind that He sees them with as much desperate love and compassion as He does me. And that He sent Jesus to die for Team Jerk, too.
Full disclosure: I have some thorns “in my flesh”, as Paul would say. People whom Satan has sent to “buffet me” and remind me that God’s grace is sufficient, bless their hearts.(2 Corinthians 12:7-10) Just me? Well, one day, as I was mentally heaping coals of fire on their heads, I felt the Lord interrupt gently to say, “Pray for them.” What the actual heck?! This was a years-long process of unending trials that had worn me down to a spiritual and emotional stub and so, naturally, I drew a blank. What do you pray about for the un-prayable? For my prickliest thorn, I prayed that she would have a good hair day. I meant it sincerely, but also it was literally the only thing that came to mind as I resisting Satan’s urgent desire for me to toss a bucket of grubs into her flower bed under cover of night. I was in a battle zone.
But you know what? Something started to heal in me when I said that pitiful little prayer for her good hair day. In me. (Not in the thorn, who’s still really thorny, by the way.) God heard that prayer. Why? Because I chose Him. His way. God answers the prayers He leads us to pray, in line with His will for His people whom He loves and has the best plans for, even the jerks. Furthermore, I’m not so hoity-toity that I can’t imagine Alicia as a thorn to someone else who probably once eeked out a similar prayer for me. I’m 100% sure I was (am?!) someone’s bless-her-heart.
Food for thought… Jesus willingly wore a crown made of thorns. He let those thorns be pushed into His skin. He let those thorns stick there and make Him bleed. And He prayed, “Father, forgive them.” Maybe that was a little more… evolved than, “Father, give her a good hair day”, but I’m still a work in progress. Pray for me.