It’s been a long, full week and decided to treat myself to Chinese take-out Sunday afternoon. My fortune cookie yielded forth the following bit of wisdom: It’s better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness. I laughed out loud when I read it because this tiny slip of paper so elegantly summed up what God taught me through the adversity I faced last week.
Someone I love treated me with complete disregard for my well-being for their own selfish personal gain last week. I was angry and hurt. Now I’m just angry. (If you are worried that you may have somehow done this terrible thing to me without realizing it…don’t. It’s not you. Unfortunately, this person will never realize nor understand the transgression.) Before you start taking sides, you must know that while the encounter may have been shrouded in conflict, a most worthy and ultimately greater purpose was at the heart of the whole matter.
I was and am angry at being subjected to this injustice and because of the relationship—having no recourse but to endure it instead of walking away or placing my own selfish attitude above theirs. So I turned to God and spent a lot of time in prayer last week asking God to take my anger and help me to do the right thing. Even though I may have been right to be angry, that doesn’t mean I have to be. If I am to follow Jesus’ example, who has every right to judge and condemn me for my selfishness and transgressions and yet sets aside his anger and hurt on a regular basis to extend to me his perfect love and undeserved grace, I must do the same.
When we have been wronged, we may not have control over the circumstances, but we do have complete control over how we will respond. Will we lash out in retribution? Will we hold a righteous grudge? Or will we, like Jesus has done for us through the cross and on a daily basis, choose to let go of the offense and reach out in love and grace? Don’t get me wrong—this is hard! It’s near impossible. But it is what Jesus did and what he calls his followers to do. No, Jesus doesn’t want us to be doormats. (He never was.) What Jesus desires is that we take the light of his Presence in our hearts and our lives and radiate that into the darkness of evil and sin. The power of sin is strong, but not invincible for just as darkness is defeated by the light of one single candle, so sin has been forever and is now defeated by the light of God’s love and grace through Christ.
But wait! Didn’t I admit to still being angry. Well I am and admitting it is a healthy first step to letting it go and moving on. When I think about it and the enemy tempts me to hold onto my anger (allowing it to fester inside) I run to God in prayer asking him to take the anger from me. I picture in my head molding that anger into a ball and holding it up to Jesus. He then takes it from my hands, and replaces it with a masterpiece of his light, love and grace of his own making to share with those who have offended and hurt me. I determine to do this every time I feel the anger towards another human being until God has changed me in the process giving me the power to pray for the good of the one who has hurt me. Now I don’t do it perfectly and more time than I like to admit, I refuse to give up my anger. It’s mine and I have a right to it!! But, then I repent and begin the process over again until God’s grace defeats the ill-will in my heart. Why do I keep trying? Two reasons: 1) In following Christ’s example, I must and 2) how else will the evil men and women of the world see the light of Christ if not in me.