When We Dig A Hole, We Sometimes Fall In
I stood at the counter in the coffee shop trying to control my emotions, and not let what was going on inside of me show on my face, which I could feel getting flushed with anger.
There she was. The former church member who had left my church and did her best to take a bunch of other people with her.
I found myself stewing about her refusal to meet with me to resolve it all, and the nasty response to a kind letter I'd sent to try to reconcile. I thought about everything I'd learned after her departure and how hurtful it all had been.
Those kinds of moments happen like that don't they? When you think you've forgotten about your wounds, and then in a flash they're all re-opened as you come face to face with the person who caused them.
It's easy in those moments to wish them ill, to hope for the worst for them. It's easy to give them power over your happiness as you begin to think of all the bad things they've done to you, and you wish would happen to them in turn.
The first century Greek philosopher Epictetus said that people who focus on "things not under their control, seeking to avoid what is controlled by others," will become "agitated, fearful and unstable."
The philosophical response to good old Epictetus ought to be: "Duh! Thanks Captain Obvious!"
But we struggle with this, don't we? Thomas Merton once wrote, "The fool is one who strives to procure at each instant some result that God has not willed." That is especially true when it comes to the people who have wounded us.
I know it's difficult to simply forgive those who have hurt us and give them over to God. It's hard to release them into their future, especially when we see them going about their business, sometimes thriving and doing well, despite what they've done to cause us pain.
But Psalm 7:15-16 speaks into the very heart of how God views those who go about wounding others, creating disunity, doing violence to the shalom of God.
15 Whoever digs a hole and scoops it out
falls into the pit they have made.
16 The trouble they cause recoils on them;
their violence comes down on their own heads.
In other words, we have to simply believe that those who have hurt us are in God's hands. It's not up to us to try to exact revenge upon them. We cannot presume to know God's will for them, nor should we try to change it.
Chances are, they will eventually find themselves reeling from the pain they've caused, the havoc they've wreaked. Which is something we should not celebrate, no matter how tempting that might be--otherwise we, too, might find ourselves deep in our own freshly dug hole.
May you find the power to forgive and set free those who have hurt you, and caused you pain. May you commend them to the mercy of God, hoping for reconciliation, redemption and resurrection.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.