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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Renée Miller

Sunday, June 13

Do not rejoice when your enemies fall, and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble.
—Proverbs 24:17

When people hurt us, betray us, demean us, commit evil against us, we want vengeance. We want them to suffer as we have. We want them to know what it feels like to be an innocent and helpless victim. We want them to be brought up short, be paid back, be stopped from doing anything in the future.

Even when we can't act out our vengeance upon them, we carry a "vengeance seed" in our heart. Then, when we hear of something bad happening to them, it's as if a strong rain has been let loose and the "vengeance seed" that has been struggling to grow breaks into full bloom. We feel a sinister delight at their misfortune and rejoice that they have finally "gotten theirs!"

We find, however, that once our delight in their disaster has passed, we really don't feel any better at all about our own pain. Their grief has not eased our own. Their victimization has not made us feel less a victim. In fact, we discover a sad pall thrown over our soul, and find ourselves even more fragile and vulnerable. 

The Holy One knows each deed that is done, and more importantly, knows why the deed was done. Neither our pain, nor our enemies's pain exists in a vacuum. God sees the heart of both and mends the ripped edges. When we leave our vengeance in the hands of heaven, our pain begins to abate, and our heart begins to heal.

O God, let me let my pain and my desire for others' punishment rest silently in your arms of love.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2003.