Not mine. I want it to be mine. I really do. Except when I am the one who commits the crime. Then I don’t want anything to do with vengeance.
Vengeance is mine.
Vengeance is not mine.
And even if it was, what should I do with it? Not what I want to do with it, but what I should do?
What do you do with it?
How many of us found ourselves wronged by someone? If you answered no, I would like to meet you. But my guess is that you live alone on some Castaway-like island with miraculous wifi and I couldn’t meet you even if I wanted to.
Which leaves the rest of us.
Vengeance. Revenge. Words fraught with emotion. Blood boiling, heart pounding, stomach-churning emotion. The words themselves sound like they are looking for a fight.
And we do fight, don’t we? Even if the fight never leaves our heads. If we don’t act out revenge we certainly stew in it. At least I do. We think, dream, and plan the exact scenario when we can return the most pain to the one who pained us first. They deserve it right?
Especially if it was intentional.
And if we do act, if we do seek revenge, it feels good. Maybe. For a moment. Maybe for a long moment. But what happens then?
What happens in our world? I look around. It is more than just Hatfield vs. McCoy. It is Republican vs. Democrat. Palestine vs. Israel. Man vs. Woman. Citizens vs. Police. Black vs. White. US vs. Russia. Brother vs. Brother. Father vs. Son. One side lashes out, the other side fights back. Justly or not. Back and forth. On and on. The punishment must fit the crime. The crime must be avenged. More wounds. More pain. More revenge.
We still haven’t said enough. No wait, there are some that are whispering those words of mercy behind tears. We just haven’t stopped yelling at each other so we can hear them.
And we desperately need to hear them.
If I were to ask you the name of the person or persons who wronged you the most, my guess is that most of you would have someone come to mind. People that really hurt you.
But instead, I am going to ask you to think of a time when you deserved punishment and received a pardon. How did it feel? What happened afterwards? What did your heart do in that moment? Imagine if that spread. What would a forgiven world look like?
I am not going to insist or guilt you into forgiveness. It doesn’t work that way. And there some of you with wounds so deep that I would never dream of telling you what to do with them. My heart bleeds for you.
But for some of us it is time to let go. I think we know when to say enough. Even if we don’t want to know. We know.
And if that is you, be encouraged by this Easter weekend. Forgiveness costs but it also brings new life.
So I will join you. I will pick up my pain and my burning heart and trudge up the hill of grace.
Mercy is waiting for us there, with a big smile on her face.