Why pray for your enemies? Why choose to love those who use you only for evil gain? I think the Bible is clear that we are to respond in loving kindness and grace when others do evil to us and against us, but of course, that is always easier said than done. Yet, in the next section, I’d like to share with you some of what God has been teaching me on this topic as I spend time with Him in meditation and prayer.
I think the point of praying for our enemies is to release the negative energy and to replace it with positive power. Blessing our enemies helps us remember that despite what they did they are still loved by the Heavenly Creator and that they still have worth as human beings. Committing them in prayer helps to take our minds off being the victim, and instead to focus on their brokenness. Then we are filled with compassion. The difficulty is that we might never see the outcome of our prayers. Unlike the faithful mother who has been praying for her son’s salvation for years and finally sees him come to the altar, we might not see a shift in our enemy’s heart. That’s the point in which we commit it entirely to God’s Hands, giving it over completely to Him. At some level we have to trust that God will relentlessly pursue them just as He did to us. At some level we need assurance that God is God and that justice will rule its course.
It may take years for our enemy to seek forgiveness from us or they might never make a move to reconcile. What’s important, then, is that we simply respect their journey. They might not be at the same place that we are, but that doesn’t mean that God is finished with them. We must respect God’s timing, knowing that He will break their heart in the right time and in the right way. It’s God’s place to punish, judge, or avenge. Our place is simply and profoundly to love our enemy unconditionally, to pray for their healing, and to release our bitterness fully to Christ. When we offer our anger on the altar of forgiveness we are admitting our lack of mutual understanding between us and the offender and instead placing our hands in His knowing that God will make a way out of chaos and confusion.
The ultimate revenge lies in our ability to let God be God. It is about trusting Christ to use what was meant as evil and harmful to bless and edify. When our enemy’s scheme fails to work, we know that the God of justice and truth has succeeded. We must be willing to yield ourselves as His tool, His scape goat to accomplish this. Jesus was a scape goat. He knows what it means to be battered, abused, and assaulted. He maintained His composure for the sake of His love for us. He incredibly wielded Himself. If we follow in His footsteps and accept the opportunity to intercede joyfully we will have immense riches. Our enemy will lose and God will triumph victoriously. So we must stop dwelling on what we have lost and instead focus on what we have gained, for what we have gained – the sheer privilege of obedience to Christ, is of infinitely more worth than what we have lost!
Questions to Ponder: 1) Am I able to thank God even if He never tells me why this tragedy happened?
2) The question is not “is it worth it?” but “is He worthy?” Is He worthy for me to undergo even the most terrible things for the sake of His Name and for the restoration of humanity?
3) Am I willing to allow God the opportunity to transform my heartache into something gloriously magnificent?
The first two questions come from listening to Helen Rosevear’s testimony. Rosevear was a missionary to the DRC and underwent many graphically brutal things but still was able to find forgiveness in her heart for her enemies thus displaying a profoundly humbling testimony. I encourage you to watch her YouTube clip as it has taught me so much about the art of forgiveness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4QdQ0lpRyI