“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How backwards is that?!? Love the people who do me harm?!? Pray for the people who call me names, who have abandoned me, the ones who have harmed me? Seriously, God? This makes me so angry sometimes, but God has used this verse to keep me soft. Many years ago, a man hurt me very deeply, I wept bitterly over this man, and to be completely honest, I wished him ill. I was that hurt and that angry, and I am embarrassed of some of the things I said regarding him in my counseling sessions. It was during this time that I learned a very important lesson, one that makes me angry, frustrates me, and brings healing to my soul.
My counselor told me to pray for that man. Not just pray for him, but pray that God would bless him and shine upon him in a way that brings joy. I told her “no”. I did not want God to bless him, I wanted God to cause him pain. But, a few days later, I begrudgingly decided that I would pray for him, that I would spend time each day praying that God would bless him. God began to soften my heart towards this man, and through praying for my enemy, God began to heal the wounds he caused me.
I have been revisiting this verse on an almost daily basis for the past few months. I have been hurt and betrayed, I have been called names and shamed, and I have been angered, yet the person who has hurt me is the one I pray for multiple times a day. It seems so backwards to people I talk to, that I would love him, and wish him well, and pray for healing and be concerned for his well-being, and by worldly standards, I should not be concerned with all of this stuff. I should be cursing his name, wishing him ill, dragging his name through the mud.
I haven’t done any of those things, and not because I don’t want to, but because the Lord has commanded me to pray for and love my enemy, and because He has been graceful to remind me to pray and because He has poured down His love over me, my heart has remained soft. And I hope and pray that those who do not know the Lord, who do not seek Him, will see His goodness in my situation and the difference my obedience makes in my life.
Lord, I thank you for Your grace. I thank you for your commandment to pray for my enemies, I thank you for the wisdom of my counselor, I thank you for those who have caused me harm and cursed my name. May You prove Yourself loving and merciful to them, and to me. You are good.