August 16, 2022 | Russ Moe
Injustice is unbearable. We were not designed to handle it and we prove it every time it happens to us. It’s the reason why metal detectors are placed at the entrance of every courthouse. It's why children instinctively cry, “that’s not fair!” from the moment they can form the words. It's one explanation for the confounding acts of hideous violence that occur far too often.
You get cut off in traffic. The wrong person gets your promotion. The divorce settlement costs you your dreams and you weren't at fault. The reaction in us is automatic. Without trying, adrenalin pumps through the stomach like a breach in a dam.
If allowed to continue, sleep is lost as well as appetite and the effects on physical health take a toll. Studies show a high percentage of physical maladies are stress related.
When an injustice festers, the mind becomes preoccupied with the details. The incident is replayed over and over in the memory stirring up more inner turmoil with each rerun. The torment is irresistible. Some turn to medication. Others seek therapy. Some buy a gun. Some hire out the execution of their boiling vengeance falsely thinking the payback is worth it.
This involuntary reaction to injustice is called “wrath” in the Bible. The “fall” and the intrusion of sin into God’s creation accounts for something so contrary to the original paradise we were made for. Our natural inclination, this “present evil world” and “the god of this world” encourages wrath and taking vengeance into our own hands. Our maker does not.
“Vengeance is mine says the Lord” tells us why we can't handle it. It's because it's not our responsibility.
At the same time, this well-known passage from Romans 12:19 gives the solution to the challenge of injustice: “Never take your own revenge ... but leave room for the wrath of God, ‘ … I will repay’ says the Lord.” (NASB)
Saul's conversion to Paul was a fulfillment of this promise. And it shows us the solution to the inner turmoil of wrath. We can be sure those believers he was persecuting were praying for him diligently as Jesus instructed us to “pray for those who persecute you.” They stepped aside and gave place to God’s handling of the situation through prayer. Their hurt feelings were vented into the energies of those prayers.
The answer to those prayers was executed on the Damascus road when their demise was brought to his knees and made a willing bondservant to Christ and the very people he oppressed. No man or any earthly execution of vengeance could have done that. What the apostle ended up joyfully paying back to the church is incalculable. That’s God’s kind of payback. And we don’t have to hire it.
When giving his acceptance speech for his heavenly Crown, I can imagine Paul thanking those who had left room for God’s mighty hand rather than taking matters into their own hands. I imagine those very hands sounding enthusiastic thunderous applause.
God is committed to taking care of all payback for us, but only if we get out of the way and let Him do what we already know we can't handle.