“I have been wronged!”
So many of us have said those words at some point in our lives. Perhaps it is happening right now to you? Maybe a situation came up that placed us in a position where we have been accused of something we didn’t do. Or perhaps there is an unfair claim against us that we cannot fight against. You’ve all heard the saying “you can’t fight city hall.” When those forces beyond our reach have come up against us, it leaves us feeling helpless, without recourse, without hope of exoneration.
In light of the last couple of years, so many of us have gone through very unique and tremendous battles as the world has struggled against an invisible enemy. The impact that each person has felt might vary, but the end result has been the same; uncertainty at every turn. Hopelessness has become prevalent. We have seen people turn on people, institutions falter, governments overreach their powers, families have been torn apart, and immeasurable losses have been felt. So many have had to face choices that were put before them that we never thought we would have to make.
Some have given up. Some have blamed God. Some have found God.
When we examine this current world of chaos in light of God’s Word, the Bible, we certainly see similar situations that folks of the Bible went through, almost paralleling the issues today. Some know the plight of being in want. Some see the struggles of class or race. Some undergo neglect from trusted family or friends. Some see abandonment from civic leaders. Some experience the hypocrisy of religious leaders. And some feel the pangs of standing alone, facing insurmountable odds of a world against them. All these things happened to so many of the people mentioned in the Bible! And we, like them, experience similar struggles even in our modern day. Sure, the times and cultures may have changed, but the core matter is the same; we feel wronged!
One thing that we do have to our advantage today that many didn’t in Bible times was the whole of written Scripture. When you examine the earliest times from Genesis onward, many of the saints of yesteryear had only the verbal Words of God. Many of the Bible’s heroes of faith didn’t have the written Psalms to comfort them in their times of distress. They didn’t have a chapter and verse account at their finger tips of the struggles that men like Noah, Abraham, David, Job, and the prophets went through to be an inspiration in their times of trial. The people of the Bible got through their situations relying solely on God and His promises through sheer faith. They kept their focus in those dark moments, holding onto the little they knew of God at that time.
We all know the story of Joseph and his brothers selling him into slavery. Joseph had no idea what was to come, but he trusted God even when depression and uncertainty crept in. And he didn’t have a nice devotional of Scripture verses to turn to like we do today. Or how about when Job sat in sack cloth, lamenting the loss of his family? He continued to trust God before, during and after the testing. He didn’t have a pastor giving him a pep talk of how God was going to bless him if he did certain things. Then there is David who ran for his life from people trying to kill him for being anointed king by God. He also kept his trust in God and His promises. In his darkest storms, all he could do was journal his feelings of fear, loss, sadness, and worry. And though he didn’t know what the outcome would be, he did know that God was in control.
You can’t trust in feelings, but you can trust in the truth of the knowledge of God!
There was a man named Jephthah who was the son of Gilead. Jephthah was ostracized by his brothers, and essentially his entire tribe, because he was the result of his father being with a prostitute. He was sent away because his brothers didn’t want him getting any inheritance from their father. And even though he was a mighty warrior by their standards, he was unjustly cast out from his people because of someone else’s sin. This man, by today’s standards, had every right to whine and complain “unfair”! Had he experienced this injustice in our modern times, he would have been encouraged to file a lawsuit for defamation and damages. His initial years being cast out from family and friends must have been filled with such sadness, anger, confusion, hurt, and so much more!
But Jephthah went out, started a family, and lived life without a murmur. How many times have we either shut down, fought back, or even sought revenge when life slapped us in the face?Jephthah suffered another insult from his own tribe when the elders later came and asked him to be their leader because the tribesmen were being threatened by the Ammonites next door. That’s quite the nerve they had to ask this guy to come back to the fold and lead the people into battle, especially when they were the very ones who kicked him out! As we look at this scenario, let’s face it…you and I might have had quite a different response than the one Jephthah gave!
In our times of being wronged, we might often lash out in anger and frustration. Though the Words of God in Romans 12 might ring in our ears saying; “repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all”, we may still feel that urge to right the wrongs ourselves. We might wish to make the instigators pay for their misdeeds to us as we push back at the very truth of God’s promise that “vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” We forget for a moment that “their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of calamity is at hand, and the things to come hastens upon them” as God says in Deuteronomy 32. We feel the unrighteousness against us, but we forget the Righteousness of God!
There are two ways to look at things that we count unfair against us. The first would be the matter that we have been wronged by others on a personal, “human”, level. Examples could be; not getting that promotion we should have received or being blamed for something we didn’t do, or maybe being hurt by someone’s words. And there are so many other situations that we can mention showing how we have defined “being wronged” by others. The second of unfair scenarios we might suffer is in experiencing wrongs against us because of our faith in Jesus Christ. Things like being excluded from family and friends because they view our faith as snobbery, or being scoffed at for believing in an unseen “God” and told that we are following “fairytales”, or we might get pushback from people when we are defending our faith and holding on to the honor of God. But the question that arises is this: is the wrong we are feeling a matter of personal pride or is it a matter of violation of righteousness?
“The present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Savior he is a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is a bigot.” – Charles Spurgeon
The most important way to address anything that we count as a wrong is to start with the Word of God. How does God look at things we count as “wrongs”? Because what we may count as a wrong, might be something that is being used by God for our growth and our edification. We may see the situation as a violation against us, but God is seeing it as trial by fire. We may think this is a negative thing we are suffering, but God is using it for a positive outcome in our sanctification. Believe me when I say that God does know all about wrongs. After all…we all have wronged Him by our sin nature!
For a simple understanding of that statement, we need only look back at the Creation and onward in Genesis. God made all things good, including man and woman, and it was pleasing to Him. But it only took a matter of time before the humans “wronged” God by violating His righteous decrees. And the wrongs kept growing and amplifying against God. It got so bad that by chapter 6 of Genesis, God was fed up with the sins (wrongs) of man against the Holiness of God! Not only did God shorten man’s days on earth (age), but he wiped out every living thing, save for 6 people and two of each creature created! And it wasn’t long after that great flood that man (chapter 11!), once again, increased in their wrongs against God. Man became so brazen that they thought that they could reach up to God in Babel, become like God all over again. And this continual wronging against God still plagues the planet today. Mankind is so narcissistic that they invent ways in their thinking to become gods through their actions and ways. Whether sciences and inventions or religions and cults; man is continually striving to either push God aside or attempt to thwart His will and ways. Looking at this in our human viewpoint, God is being wronged by the very things He created!
Yet, despite this continual display of wrongs by His creation, God still loves us! Despite the hard-headedness of man, God still reached out to us through His Son Jesus! Despite the flagrant failings by those whom He has called into faith by the power of the Holy Spirit, God still forgives! You see…despite ourselves, we can still have hope!
We might not see clear the future promises of God’s plans for our lives, but like the saints of yesteryear, we need to keep faith in His promises, despite the circumstances we may find ourselves facing. We can always rest in the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote to the believers in Philippi “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” We can trust that God will, when others won’t. When we feel hurt or wronged by others, we are leaning on our feelings. Jesus exclaimed that “in the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Yes, these times and trials do hurt. There is no doubt about that. But this is where we can feed our faith in the Word of God! We have the Scriptures to guide us, comfort us, strengthen us, and cast the light we need to bring us through the storms we face!
God’s ways are right. And if we are in Christ Jesus, our Savior, we share in His righteousness. No matter what the world does, we can stand on this truth. No matter how much we are wronged, we can take comfort knowing that God has already dealt with these things. God reminds us in Hebrews 4: Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
When we pass through the waters, suffer at the hands of the world, feel the pains of being wronged, we can trust and know that our Lord is fully aware of our situation. In Psalm 34:15 He tells us that the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry. It is so easy to get swallowed up by the results of people’s actions against us. When we get hurt or scared, we feel like we are separated from our comforts. We wonder if we are standing alone, without support, just like Jephthah must have felt when he was forced away from his own people. Even if should we receive recompense after our being wronged, there could still be repercussions that we may deem “unfair”. In the case of Jephthah, he made a promise to the Lord that if God gave the battle victory to the Gileadites that Jephthah would offer up a special sacrifice. And God did give them the victory. If you stopped right there, you would think he was exonerated and all’s well that ends well. But the promise from Jephthah was a sacrifice of whatever or whomever came out first to meet him when he got home from the battle. Many would think the dog or something of that sort, but, sadly, it was his only child…his daughter.
Yes, we might get some retribution for our being wronged, but that doesn’t mean the end of the struggles. Our expectation of what the storybook endings should be are not necessarily in God’s plans. Yet, despite the sad ending to that part of the story, Jephthah remained faithful to the Lord and his calling. And we need to remember that no matter the outcome of our trials and tribulations, we are also to remain faithful and trusting in God’s providence! Jephthah’s faith, despite the wrongs against him, despite the losses he suffered through, is a powerful testimony to us today. He is even mentioned in the great Saints Hall of Faith that is listed in Hebrews chapter 11!
And then we have Jesus the Messiah. Before He was here, He was with God and is God. And through the great love of God for us, Jesus was sent to earth as mortal man, yet fully God. He who knew no sin was exposed to the very sin that decimates this place and is an abomination to God. Though He came in peace, he was at war with His own creation. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, loved with an unconditional love…even those who despised Him, and set the example of what God wants for us and from us. And after all that, He was wrongfully accused, beaten, scoffed, and eventually murdered in a most horrific manner: the cross. Though our human thinking would point out the unfairness of this treatment of Jesus, yet in God’s plan it was all necessary to save us from the sin that condemns us all to eternal damnation. Without the wrongs done by our standards, the right of God’s standards would never have been met.
Among many though, there is a desire for righteousness to prevail in the world. The great Puritan preacher Jeremiah Burroughs once wrote that “the people of God are grieved to see unrighteous dealings, because the honor of God is eclipsed. Unrighteousness is unsuitable to their spirits, since the Lord has put righteousness in their hearts.” It is a human desire for fairness and for right to reign supreme over the lands. Yet with the prevalence of sin in this fallen world, we know that there will always be wrongs, there will always be unfairness, there will always be evil…until the end of times. Burroughs continues with a prayer of many saints today by asking ‘why, Lord, does the kingdom of Satan prevail in the world? O Lord, when shall the righteous scepter of Jesus Christ have sway among the children of men?’ What a heartfelt plea to the God of the universe! To have His right prevail and His will be done!
We may not be able to stop the evil that men do to others, or ourselves, but we know that in due time they will have to give an account to the Lord. We may feel wronged at the moment by the actions of others, but we must remember that we do walk within a fallen world, and that God is, in His providence, in complete control! This is where faith and trust comes in. Yes, we have a righteous heart that hungers for righteousness…whether it be for ourselves or others…but knowing that God understands, cares, loves, and is there for us in those times should give us comfort beyond imagination! Keep all these things in perspective. It is a balm for the soul!
We are to stand firm in our faith, despite the storms of this world. Not to give up hope! As it says in Hebrews chapter 3: Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Emphasis mine)
We can easily grow faint and wearied by the bombardment of the world’s evil. When we see those who wrong others and don’t seem to have to account for their actions, we wonder where is the justice, where is God? We have that desire for righteousness to prevail, but don’t necessarily see it. Don’t let that harden your hearts! Take comfort knowing that in this time of testing that our Lord and Savior is there beside us! And His wrath to come will set all things right, all things under His judgment, all things for His glory! We just need to persevere.
I’ll close with a great exhortation from Hebrews chapter 10 that reminds us to stand firm:
Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.