When someone hurts you deeply and then they seem to get away with it, don’t you sense within your heart that an injustice has happened? They did something wrong … and nothing is going to happen to them. Justice has not prevailed.
That desire for justice isn’t wrong. In fact, it is one of the many fingerprints that God has left on us, His creation.
Isaiah 61:8 “For I the LORD love justice…”
But, as Jesus-followers, we cannot hold onto those feelings as if we were the judge who was responsible for paying that person back. If we do, all sorts of bad things will begin to happen inside of us. Instead, we must offer up prayers to our God who has promised to exercise justice on our behalf.
Romans 12:19-21 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
So how do we move past those perpetual feelings of injustice? Simply put, we must see the injustice from a different perspective.
We must realize that God is ultimately the one who is in charge of our lives.
We must realize that nothing can happen to us unless God allows it to happen to us.
And we must realize that everything that happens to us has to go through God’s hands and is intended for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).
In my Bible reading this morning, I came across a beautiful illustration of this truth.
A man named Joseph was once a young boy who was treated horribly by his older brothers. They despised him and sold him into slavery to get rid of him. Injustice!
But, through God’s providential care, Joseph rose from slavery to governmental leadership. And when his brothers found out that the brother they had despised was now the second most powerful man in the world, they were terrified. He could easily have them slaughtered. In fact, justice would seem to demand it.
But, listen to Joseph’s words to his brothers as he seeks to console them.
Genesis 45:4-8 “So Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come near to me, please.’ And they came near. And he said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.'”
Did you get that? Joseph was incredibly emotionally healthy. He hadn’t grown bitter because of what had been done to him. God allowed him to think clearly about the injustice.
Here are some of the noteworthy mindsets we see in Joseph’s words:
- He chose to love those who had abused him.
- He did not gloss over the evil; he acknowledged the injustice that had taken place.
- He asked those who had wronged him to forgive themselves for what they had done.
- He acknowledged that God was ultimately in charge and had overruled the injustice. He brought something wonderful out of what was evil.
- He assured those who had wronged him that he would not hold their actions against them and, instead, would take care of them.
Later, after Jacob (Israel) died, Joseph’s brothers questioned the sincerity of Joseph’s heart. They could not imagine that he could have really forgiven them for what they did to him.
So, they came to him, fell on their knees, and asked to be his servants. Why? Because they were afraid that Joseph was going to exercise justice upon them and throw them into prison, force them into slavery, or maybe even kill them.
But, Joseph wept when he realized that his brothers didn’t understand the sincerity of his heart. It grieved him that they did not understand just how fully he had forgiven them for the evil they had done to him.
So he told them again how he was able to live in a state of forgiveness.
Genesis 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Friend, God may never take someone’s evil acts against you and cause you to rise to governmental leadership like He did in Joseph’s case. But, He has promised to work whatever happens to you for your good.
When you are mistreated by someone else, realize that God has promised to take care of justice. Don’t hold onto it. But, also realize that God is the one working behind the scenes to use even the really bad stuff that happens to you to make you more like Jesus.
Look for what He’s doing in your life. Maybe He’s chipping away at some sin pattern in your heart. Maybe He’s causing you to depend more upon Him.
If you can focus on the good thing God is doing through the bad stuff that has happened to you, you will find it much easier to forgive the offender who caused the hurt in the first place.
(If this article has been helpful, consider leaving a comment below and sharing it on social media.)