Ever get blasted for doing the right thing when few others (maybe no others) were? How about being looked down upon because you made a serious mistake about something, especially something you knew better than to do? Or what about feeling the heat when others are succeeding in the world’s eyes and you’re not because you’re not willing to play their “game?” God understands. He has been there. The Gospel accounts show time and again where Jesus could have decided to do it the way the religious leaders of His day wanted Him to, but He refused. Had He done it their way, He likely would have been given great honor and recognized as one of the movers and shakers of Jewish society by these guys. But Jesus couldn’t do it their way. Their way wasn’t right. They were actually leading the people astray with their beliefs and with their work-centered philosophies about how to be holy before a Holy God. And He felt the heat for it. They tried to kill Him. And when it was time, when the Passover Lamb needed to be sacrificed for the remission of our sins, he let them do so. They probably thought they had won. But they were wrong. We won. We won because with that sacrifice we were forgiven. We were given what we couldn’t obtain. And Christ imparted on us His righteousness and His holiness.
It’s one thing for Jesus to do it and quite another for us to handle those situations well. After all, He wasn’t just the Son of Man, He was the Son of God, the I AM, right? That may be true, but when we were saved from our sins, God sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, to lead us, to counsel us, and to pray for us even when we have no idea what to pray. God has placed Himself within us to help us see things from His perspective and to trust in faith on His power. When we do so we will see reward. Maybe not right away, but over time, maybe even as late as eternity. But God keeps His promises. That should help us to persevere even when things are looking pretty miserable. In fact, that’s exactly what God tells us to do:
But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD;
I will wait for the God of my salvation
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me.
I will bear the indignation of the LORD
Because I have sinned against Him,
Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me
He will bring me out to the light,
And I will see His righteousness.
Then my enemy will see,
And shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the LORD your God?”
My eyes will look on her;
At that time she will be trampled down
Like mire of the streets.
– Micah 7:7-10, NASB
We have to remember that what we’re going through is noticed and acknowledged by God. Sometimes we go through trials and tribulations through no fault of our own. Sometimes it’s circumstances, a fault of this fallen world tainted by sin. That’s why the prophet Micah refers to falling but still rising, dwelling in darkness and God still being a light without any qualification. Sometimes it is our fault. We’ve sinned against God. However, we are reminded that when He executes justice for us, it will be with mercy. He will bring us into the light. We will see His righteousness. We will be made better because He has decided to improve us in spite of our iniquity. That’s not an excuse to go and sin more, because if we truly love God we seek to avoid sin in our lives, but it is a reminder of how He overcomes our weaknesses in the areas that really count.
And what about those who scoff and mock at us? What about those who kick us when we’re down? When we rise back up how should we respond? We shouldn’t. We have to remember we are no better than any other. If someone has torn into our flesh with word and/or deed, if they’ve heaped abuse and hurt on us, we need to let it go. Notice that Micah speaks here as an observer to what happens to his enemy. Micah is not the agent causing retribution on the enemy. He merely sees what happens. The enemy will suffer shame. The enemy will be trampled down. We aren’t to do it. God will take care of all the details. He will deliver judgment and justice. We’re to wait on God expectantly for our salvation. We’re to be focused on Him.
Think about this for a second… if we are consumed with revenge, for wanting to give back what we’ve gotten, that means our focus is on us. That means our focus is not on our Lord and our God. And that’s why Micah starts the whole thing with where our focus should be. If we’re focused on God in the midst of our trials, we are able to bear them better. We are able to have patience as we suffer through them. Things will get better. Remember, whatever we suffer through in this lifetime does not compare with the glory of the next. So even if it doesn’t get better here and now, it will be better in eternity. Many a Christian has met their end standing firm for their faith. This is how they are able. They have the long term view, the one that reminds them that suffering for Christ means they have been counted worthy! And if we’ve gone through suffering and come out the other side, our focus needs to remain on Christ. Let Him deal with those who harmed us. We’ve got better things to do than try and pay them back. Things like worshipping the one who first loved us and saved us from our sins.