The Gift of Wisdom: Resisting Revenge
(Written for The Round Farmhouse Ministries and published on August 24, 2023)
"Don’t talk about your neighbors behind their backs—no slander or gossip, please. Don’t say to anyone, “I’ll get back at you for what you did to me. I’ll make you pay for what you did!”
~ Proverbs 24:28-29 ~ MSG
In the mid-90s, I had worked my way up to the position of Executive Assistant reporting to both the President and CFO of a large company. The position carried substantial responsibility. When I had an opportunity to go to Europe to continue some university courses, I was granted a leave of absence and tasked with the job of hiring my replacement. After weeks of recruitment and interviews, I selected a candidate who was highly qualified and would fill the position well.
Fast forward to my return several months later. On my first day back, my replacement made it clear that she had no intention of giving up the position, so a new position was created for me. In this new job, my replacement fell under my supervision along with the entire admin and support staff.
But, not long after the new arrangement was put in place, I was called into the president's office for a meeting. Completely blindsided, I was confronted with a range of unfounded and blatantly false accusations made by my replacement. She clearly resented having to report to me and made every effort to make my life miserable. Worse was the fact that my boss (the president) ignored my unblemished track record and accepted the accusations and lies.
Can you recall a time when you were spoken of unfairly? Can you still feel the gut-wrenching hurt you felt and the helplessness to defend yourself; robbing you of sleep and inner peace? Even now, as I reflect on that situation so many years ago, I recall the urge I had to retaliate. Being treated unjustly and without any way of rectifying the situation, my anger toward that co-worker was fierce. I continued to pray.
"A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense."
~ Proverbs 19:11 ~ (NIV)
Eventually, after several miserable weeks and much prayer, I made the gut wrenching decision to leave. The prospect of quitting and losing my income was terrifying but I knew my dignity and reputation meant more. In the end, my years of service were recognized with a severance and, because of my studies overseas, I found a rewarding position that utilized all of my new training as well as my vast experience of the past.
During those few weeks, through so many tears and prayers, I came to realize that retaliation would be the wrong course of action. I was confident in my reputation and track record and knew that, like a meteor that quickly fizzles, my nasty colleague would eventually be her own undoing.
Over the years, I have often reflected back to those miserable weeks, not with malice or anger, but with thanksgiving. Even as I was in a season of uncertainty, despair, and sadness, God's plan was unfolding and leading me out of that darkness. I prayed often for that colleague, regardless of how she had treated me. At times it was hard. God's lessons aren't always meant to be simple and easy; they're meant to make us stronger and closer to Him.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
~ Ephesians 4:29 ~ (NIV)
I pray that each of us can find strength through Christ to refrain from retaliation against those who wrong us, to pray for those who hurt and betray us, and to thank God for the lessons these tough situations teach us.