Welcome to the series “You did it to me” where we will be discussing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. This will be a twice a month series from March to September 2015. We hope you enjoy!
Have you ever been hurt so deeply, especially by someone you truly love and care about, that you thought you may never get past the pain? Has there ever been a time when you were judged and wrongfully convicted in the minds and hearts of others for something that you weren’t responsible for? Perhaps someone has thought unkindly and unfairly of you. How has that made you feel?
When we are faced with trials such as these, our human nature often kicks in and tells us to retaliate. We feel the need to respond in the same manner, bringing others down, and hurting them as they have hurt us. But is this how we are called to live?
Our faith tells us that we must bear wrongs patiently, but what does this mean?
Bear Wrongs Patiently
To bear wrongs patiently means that when others treat us unfairly or unkindly we don’t seek to treat them in the same manner that they have treated us. It means we should work to forgive and to move forward instead of dwelling on the injustice that we have encountered. We are to continue loving our persecutors as Christ does. Sometimes this seems like an impossible feat!
My favorite bible verse is from the 5th chapter of Matthew. In this chapter, Christ is instructing His followers on various teachings. He tells them in verses 38-42,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Recently someone told me that this verse shows how weak Christians are. He told me that people should be able to retaliate when they have been hurt. When you retaliate you show your strength. “An eye for an eye,” he exclaimed! But does this verse show weakness or does it show incredible strength and fortitude?
It takes a much stronger person to forgive another than it takes to hurt him in return. There are times when it is easy to forgive- perhaps the injustice wasn’t too severe or maybe the person seemed truly contrite and asked to be forgiven. But what about the times when you are not asked for forgiveness and the person doesn’t seem to be contrite at all? In those times, the amount of faith and fortitude it takes to bear those wrongs patiently is almost unimaginable.
When we struggle to forgive others or to bear wrongs patiently, we simply need to look at the cross to know it is possible to forgive even the most terrible injustices that others commit against us. Christ, fully human, felt all the emotions we feel. And yet, as He hung painfully, dying on the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) Through this simple prayer He showed us how we should react when we too are wrongly punished, ridiculed, or blamed.
Christ Strengthens Us
Christ, in our times of trial and darkness, can help us embrace our cross just as He embraced His own. When we are wrongfully persecuted, He can help us to be patient. When we feel beaten down, He can lift us back up. When we feel lost and alone because all have turned their backs on us, He is there to reassure us that He is always there beside us.
I have written about forgiveness before. In that article I talked about how forgiving doesn’t mean that what someone else did to you is ok or that you won’t protect yourself from it happening again; but it means you are letting go of the hurt so that you can heal.
Likewise, when we bear wrongs patiently we are not saying that we deserve to be treated poorly or that we even accept that treatment. When we bear wrongs patiently we are saying that we know God will bring good from the pain we are experiencing and that we are willing to allow Him the time He needs to do exactly that. We are saying we want to model the love Christ showed to us when He forgave those who persecuted Him.
To be a Christian means that we are called to difficult tasks. Bearing wrongs patiently is one of those teachings that can be hard to follow. Our fallen human nature wants revenge on others instead of answering Christ’s instruction to turn the other cheek. However, if we are to bear wrongs patiently then we must actively seek out Christ and pray for patience, perseverance, and love.
Be strong in the Lord. He will strengthen you and sustain you through the worst trials and persecutions you will face.
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28