Daily Archives: July 27th, 2011

Reconsidering Recompense

Psalm 74

Why have you rejected us forever, O God? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? Remember the people you purchased of old, the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed— Mount Zion, where you dwelt.

Turn your steps toward these everlasting ruins, all this destruction the enemy has brought on the sanctuary. Your foes roared in the place where you met with us; they set up their standards as signs. They behaved like men wielding axes to cut through a thicket of trees. They smashed all the carved paneling with their axes and hatchets. They burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name. They said in their hearts, “We will crush them completely!” They burned every place where God was worshiped in the land.

We are given no miraculous signs; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be. How long will the enemy mock you, O God? Will the foe revile your name forever? Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the folds of your garment and destroy them!

But you, O God, are my king from of old; you bring salvation upon the earth. It was you who split open the sea by your power; you broke the heads of the monster in the waters. It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert. It was you who opened up springs and streams; you dried up the ever flowing rivers. The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter.

Remember how the enemy has mocked you, O LORD, how foolish people have reviled your name. Do not hand over the life of your dove to wild beasts; do not forget the lives of your afflicted people forever. Have regard for your covenant, because haunts of violence fill the dark places of the land. Do not let the oppressed retreat in disgrace; may the poor and needy praise your name.

Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long. Do not ignore the clamor of your adversaries, the uproar of your enemies, which rises continually.

Wouldn’t it be nice if divine retribution were a little timelier? In my life I’ve accumulated a few people who seem to have been appointed by Satan himself to torment me. Not that they would acknowledge this, or even be aware of it. I’m sure they believe that what they’re doing is right, and that any informed observer would agree. Being Christians they probably think they’re doing the Lord’s work. (John 16:2)

Sometimes after one of their attacks, I’ve wished the Lord would set them straight as in His promise from Rev. 3:9, “I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.” But then the Lord reminds me that He doesn’t do things like that to me when I’m in the wrong, so why should I expect Him to do it to them?

Well meaning friends tell me that I should view attacks from Satan as evidence that I’m having an impact in the world. Attacks like this are kind of a left-handed compliment, they say, the enemy’s acknowledgement that I’m causing him some heartburn. He’s busy enough so that it’s easy to stay under his radar if you don’t make waves. Getting his attention is a sign you’re relevant. Others repeat an axiom I’ve often used myself. “Living well is the best revenge.” In other words, stay above it. Live your life as though nothing they can do can ever steal your joy. Use your anger to energize your success. It’s like heaping burning coals on their heads. (Romans 12:20)

The hard part about all the above is that none of it brings any immediate sense of closure. It’s like everything’s left hanging until some unknown day in the future when the Lord makes it right again.

And then two friends independently gave me identical advice that settles things, in my mind at least. They said, “Remember, only the offended party has the privilege of climbing up on the cross with Jesus.”

It’s the testimony of two witnesses, and I’m OK with that. Now I can get closure. After all, the cross is where the real victory is. “No servant is greater than his master,” Jesus told us, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20)

Next time someone gets you in his sights, look to the cross. There’s always room for one more, and think of the company you’ll be in.

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