I am wondering about your thoughts on something that has been eating me up as of late which is the correct way to respond to harmful and hurtful behavior. Up to this point in my life, I think one sin pattern that I have not fallen into is anger. In general, I think I have observed Jesus’ words to “turn the other cheek” so to say, and accept the bad with the good. This is not necessarily easy, but ultimately I believe it is the right way to show others who may not know God a paltry example of His mercy, if nothing else but to make them think.
When Jesus confronts the Pharisees he responds, “I desire mercy, not sacrifices…”. Later on in the book of Matthew, Jesus tells Peter that He must forgive someone who sins against him 77 times (I take this to mean an infinite amount of times). I know that this is how God welcomes me and all sinners back, and it is clear to me from the Gospel accounts that forgiveness is an attribute which we should all aspire to exude. And yet, I can’t help but think this opens oneself up to be “walked all over”, “taken advantage of”, etc.
A recent situation that has happened to me has left me in a poor spot in this regard. I’ll leave the specifics out of this post, but I can say I was hurt orders of magnitude worse than I ever have before, and that for maybe the first time in my life, I genuinely wish unhappiness and constant, unending distress upon the person who put me in the situation. I don’t want to feel this way. Jesus is a shining example demonstrating to us this kind of thinking is destructive. One of the most powerful stories of Jesus’ life on Earth in my mind was his prayer for those nailing his perfectly sinless body to a cross in the book of Luke. In less hurtful situations, this is something I have been able to do, but this time I am truthfully unable to do.
So my question boils down to how to
- Better forgive when it is very difficult to do so, even knowing how God forgives me over and over.
- Overcome feelings of retribution and the like, knowing it is God’s to give freely.
- Better come to grips with God’s teachings on the seemingly dichotomous attributes of justice and mercy
I will also humbly ask you all for your prayers in this regard.