As I answered the phone, I knew deep in my gut that I would not like the message conveyed. It’s that feeling of dread that puts your stomach in a knot, preparing you for the worst. What I had feared had taken place.
My grandfather had worked very hard in his successful yet brief life to provide for his family to live comfortably. When he died, my grandmother did her very best to protect it with the intention of passing on the blessings at her demise. When I told her that the FBI had confirmed that she had invested in a fraudulent investment firm and had lost almost 350K, she went into shock. The following day she suffered a stroke and lost her ability to communicate. She passed into the arms of Jesus a year later.
Her estate was then managed by an individual who had my grandparent’s legacy of labor in his hands. He was given complete power over all decisions with little to no accountability. After I attempted to pull in the reigns and gain some control, I was again on the receiving end of bad news. The attorney informed me that more than 500K was gone and no recourse available. My heart sank, and my knees hit the floor as I cried out to God. What had been a selfless dream of my grandfather to ensure his family could live out their dreams was stolen in a few short months with a consequence of no more than numerous trips to court and a tarnished name. On earth, there was no justice served.
We all experience injustice to some degree. Whether it is a cheating spouse who leaves, never to return, a drunk driver taking the life of a loved one, it insights an inner scream to seek vengeance and demand justice. We want the wrong made right — now! I screamed for two years for justice. My hurt turned to bitterness, resentment, anger, and then hatred. When we allow the pain in our life to fuel hatred, we hand our emotions over to the devil to have free reign. We seek physical and emotional retribution, cross ethical and moral lines, insight division, and enlist toxic attitudes and people. We make the situation worse, our relationships worse, our lives worse.
I sat at the kitchen table, face in my hands, exhausted from being angry and worn from hating someone who cared less for me. As that familiar comfort of the Holy Spirit welled up in my soul, He reminded me of His word that spoke so powerfully to my condition. Verse by verse, His Spirit shared gentle instruction:
- Romans 12:19, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
- Ephesians 4:26-27, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
- Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I was overcome with remorse for allowing my hurt to turn into hatred. Talking to God about our hurts, sharing our anger, being honest about our feelings, even the ugly ones, is what He wants from us. God’s word spoke directly to the heart of the matter and was clear. The Spirit convinced me the plank in my eye needed to be removed. And, with an abundance of mercy, encouraged me to forgive those who had harmed my family. It was time to trust God to provide. I could no longer live to hate; rather, I chose to love the living.
This story is not over. I look forward to sharing with you the miraculous intervention of the Lord. It is amazing how Jesus is compelled to draw closer to us in our sin and never to reject us. Think of those who you might be holding a grudge against, even feeling hatred. Ask God to show you how to love those you hate. Jesus has an abundance of grace and mercy for us all.