Turning The Cheek
Recently, my family and I have been facing a situation that has been incredibly challenging and hurtful. Personalities, anger, hurt and conflict have provided us with some unwanted turbulence and it has been difficult for me to deal with it well.
Let's just say I am very sensitive and I am just not having it. It is very evident in some of my responses and reactions to everything as of late.
What does a christian woman do when she sees the people that she loves deeply and fiercely being hurt by those who have no power, yet they do. I can't stop it. I feel powerless to say anything. At the core, I am a protecter and defender of my people. I can't change that and I don't want to change that about myself.
I don't want to become an angry individual. And I certainly don't want to spend all of my time being upset and playing around in my mind all of the negative when really, there has been so much good. Swallowing my pride and my tongue takes a lot of work. The drama depletes me of my energy. It would be so much easier to just lash and speak my mind. State my opinion. Call people out. However, responding that way would take up even more of my energy, so it would be wise for me to heed this word of warning from scripture:
“Don’t say, ‘I will avenge this evil!’
Wait on the Lord and he will rescue you.”
Proverbs 20:22 CSB
Wait on the Lord, and he will rescue you.
Turning the other cheek when someone else has wronged you is much harder than it looks or even appears within Scripture. Jesus spoke lovingly yet firmly to us about how we treat and respond to those who hurt us. Also, just so you know, Christians will also wrong us. It is part of our human and sinful nature.
For we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Hence why we need Jesus.
As I am wrestling through our situation in the present, I have been led to a few passages of scripture that are helping me see the root of everything, and how to best respond to this situation. I still struggle with how I think toward specific individuals part of our story. However, God has called to mind that these individuals have been created in the very image of God. That is how I should see them. That is how we should see them.
That is an especially hard pill to swallow. They too have been created in the very image of God and God loves them and sent His Son to die for this person’s sins so they can be redeemed. It is much easier to villainize this individual in my head.
“They deserve it” is what I usually rationalize in my brain when I think about the pain they have caused and the havoc they are creating in our home. That is what most of us will say when we have been wronged, and then the seeds of anger and bitterness take root and then thorns of unforgiveness and animosity reveal themselves.
However, fighting fire with fire will end up burning a whole lot more than the individuals holding the matches. The effects will be more devastating.
Which leads me to one of my favorite Bible stories: Joseph.
Joseph was his father's favorite. He knew it. He reveled in it. And as he glowed with favor from his father and made it known to everyone.....his brothers resented him. Hated him. Their disdain for him made evident in the home, in every interaction. Joseph was oblivious, or maybe he was so caught up in himself that he couldn't see their hurt. I am merely speculating.
Their bitterness and disgust toward their brother grew to the point where they plotted to kill him. Instead, they sold him to slave traders. They sold their own brother and then made up a story of their brother's death, breaking their father's heart in the process.
Joseph ended up in Egypt under Pharoah. Experienced the highs of favor within the kingdom, then the lows of false accusations and imprisonment. Then found favor again, to the point where he was the number two guy under Pharoah, and helped save Egypt from starvation.
Enter his brothers. Act 2 of the story of Joseph.
I imagine that as Joseph grew up, he had a lot of time to think about his brothers and his father. I am imagining that he had to deal with a lot of personal inner conflict, anger, hurt, and finally forgiveness. Seeing the evidence of God's goodness and faithfulness while sold to traders, falsely accused and then imprisoned and then experiencing the opportunity to help others and save them from certain death....how could one not be transformed unless they were completely hardened toward God.
Joseph could have easily had his revenge upon his brothers. After all, he was the one in control now. He had the power. The ability. The authority to wreck havoc on their lives, as they had done so many years prior.
Yet he didn't. He wept. He turned the cheek and loved them and provided for them and told them he forgave them. Redemption is far more beautiful and justice in this instance looks like grace and love and mercy. He saw them as human beings. As belonging to God. And he assured them that while yes, they intended to do him hard, God used it for good because of the purpose God had already set forth.
Justice looks like love. It was not Joseph's job to get revenge. God had another plan. Instead, people were rescued and Joseph was reunited with his family.
And the rest is history. I encourage you to read Genesis 37; 39-45 for this story. I hope you will read it with a new lens.
Turning the cheek, and seeing people who have caused us pain as image bearers of Christ is not easy by any means. But, I am encouraged that it is possible. God has provided us with plenty of examples with heroes of the faith as evidence and testimony.
Justice and redemption looks so very different than what the world paints for us. It is not anger. Bitterness. Hate. Death.
It is Love. Goodness. Mercy. Faith. Restoration. Humility. Grace.