I stumbled down the stairs, willing myself to the downstairs bathroom. I’ve never understood the draw of the early morning hours and at seventeen years old, those hours were tortuous.
Mornings provided predictability. Never a day went by when my parents weren’t cozied up on the sofa engrossed in their morning devotional time, but this day offered something different.
On this particular morning, a transforming moment occurred. I didn’t know it then, but the next five minutes would shape the lens from which I viewed core biblical principles. As I tiptoed into the kitchen, I overheard them — my parents, interceding on behalf of that horrible man. This man was bent on ruining my father’s reputation, lying in order to restore his financial success and in the process destroy ours.
I stood behind the wall eavesdropping, all the while becoming more upset with what I heard.
“Blessing over their family . . . reconciliation . . . harmony . . . forgiveness.”
How could they be praying for our sworn enemy?
My pain was so fresh from this betrayal. Yes, even at seventeen, a neat, orderly world can be turned upside down. How could my parents not be outraged?
I wanted to hear their anger cry, their desire for justice, their prayers demanding that the Lord swiftly correct these terrible wrongs because everyone should know of his falsehoods.
I left for school that morning silent. The answers I desired were not within my grasp, and the justification I needed didn’t occur.
Isn’t it something how, decades later, I still feel the excruciating emotions of that day? Pivotal moments do that to you. They sear your heart in untold ways. As my justice-oriented nature wanted to gather the troops and defend at all cost, my mother’s simple retort rocked my world, “The Lord is the defender of our reputation.”
But what about RIGHT NOW? This isn’t fair! Let’s call everyone. Let’s gather our assembly. Let’s tell them what he’s done. We can create community with a common adversary, and it’s completely within our right!
It took me years to truly understand that their choice was not one done out of weakness but out of strong conviction and strength of character. It’s easy to create dissension among the church, and it certainly doesn’t take much effort to spread gossip and split sides. But to focus on bringing glory to the Lord rather than focusing on bringing glory to oneself is something else entirely.
If you must defend yourself, God allows that. It’s not a biblical mandate to stay silent. Often clarification of miscommunication is necessary. But if you turn the defense of yourself over to God, He will defend you. Maybe not in our convenient time table, but He promises His defense.
A.W. Tozer once said, “I don’t have to fight. The Lord does the fighting for me, and He’ll do the same for you. He will be an enemy to your enemy and an adversary to your adversary, and you’ll never need to defend yourself.” (See Exodus 23:22)
I’ll be honest, I don’t always get this right. In painful relational situations, there’s nothing more I want than to rally the troops, but I am continually reminded of my parents’ early morning intercession. For years, they offered their blessing to an enemy. I’ve come to realize how futile it is to worry about a reputation. If I live my life wholly abandoned to the Savior, He’s got me right where He wants me, and as my kids would say, “He’s got my back.”
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.
Philippians 1:27 (ESV)
I could ponder the age-old question of “Why do bad things happen to good bad people?” or even “Why do the bad sometimes prosper?” I could dig out my college thesis on this very issue with deep philosophical words and months of pondering, but the reality is that I’m a simple girl. I like issues tied up with a simple bow. I want us to agree to disagree and leave as friends. In my Pollyanna-like world, I don’t understand why that can’t happen, especially among believers, but the fact is, we’re sinners, and life is messy.
I’ve seen this firsthand: the swindler stealing a family’s investments, a cheater snagging glory for his own advancement, and even the bully who always gets his way.
And here’s the real rub — sometimes we don’t see the restoration in our lifetime. My parents never recovered from that devastating financial blow. They lost their house and business, but they gained so much more. They created a generational legacy that now spans four generations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren living to glorify Him, and He has been so faithful.
It’s really hard for me to grasp why the bad guys sometimes win, but they do. In fact, I feel that more than ever these days. The world is not just, but God is and that’s enough. That’s more than enough.
This is such a wonderful challenge. To pray for those who hurt us and wish us ill goes against our natural desires for justice and revenge, but is SO powerful. What a witness and legacy your parents gave – inspirational. So often we want a neat Hollywood ending of how we will be rewarded in this world with actual recompense and justification far beyond our expectations… and your parents were, but not materially. This inspired me again to pray blessings on those ‘difficult’ people in my life. Thank you.
Angie – – That special Hollywood ending won’t come, but I look at the legacy ending and living with Kingdom purpose in mind and it’s the best screenplay ever. 🙂
blessings to you on this monday.
Thank you for sharing your story. It touched my heart and made me want to follow your lead. You are so blessed to have such wonderful parents.
Thank you, Rita. I I do not take them for granted one bit.!
I really struggled with this when I was going through court battles with my daughter’s father (who was abusive). To a large extent, this is still a struggle. God is protecting us both in his absence, but should he reappear (which he sadly has the legal right to do), I worry about protecting my daughter.
Oh Elizabeth –
This is so raw and painful! I am so sorry you are going through this because I know you have your daughter’s best interest in mind.
And please know that in this situation you may need to defend yourself in the courts, but bare in mind that ultimately the Lord will protect your daughter and we will continue to pray that hedge of protection over her.
So much love for you today. xoxox
Everything in me is screaming Nooooooo, right now. While, I know what you are saying is the truth, the lack of justice or “made right” or “in the end there is restoration” is really hard to embrace.
Kim – while this situation happened decades ago, there are still parts of me that echo that same sentiment all these years later. It’s a hard one to let go of and yet this shaped me and who I am today more than any other situation.
Tristi Carlson says
It’s a daily battle to place it in God’s hands. I needed this reminder as I head to a family funeral this morning. I’ve been shunned by my cousin who was my best friend and her family and have had to just let them go. I want to defend myself desperately but it serves no purpose. I must place it in God’s hands. Thank you for this reminder!
I prayed for you and your family funeral. How did it go? The pain of grieving amidst the relational grieving that you had to face this weekend I know was so much. Praying the Lord sustains you this week.
Beth Williams says
My mantra is “God will repay them for their actions”. “You reap what you sow”. It’s in our nature to want revenge now. To see the guilty punished. Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:44-45 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. Did not Jesus defend David from all his enemies? While it is hard we need to turn everything over to God & let Him handle it. After all He is in control.
Yes Beth –
It’s so hard to do the exact opposite of what our natural self desires, isn’t it? So glad He takes the lead even when I don’t want to.
Dorothy Ramathal says
at last left everything in God’s hands
YES Dorothy!! xoxox
It is such a great reminder to pray for all. I surrender my children, my grandchildren to your safe arms Lord. I trust you.
Echoing that with you, Carmen.
xoxox – Jen
I surrender all. All to thee my blessed Savior. I surrender all. I have sung this and prayed this often. Surrendering is a challenge. I ask the Lord to help me. I am doing better. Thank you for sharing. Praying now for my enemies and praying that I surrender all.
That is a prayer I have to echo often. Just when I think I’ve released the control to Him, sometimes I pick it back up.
So thankful for that hymn put to music back in the late 1800s that is just as relevant today as it was back then.
This brings up so much for me. It is a struggle to remember that God is the one who doles out justice. Every injustice leaves me shaking my head and it is very hard to show compassion, understanding and more importantly, forgiveness. And to be honest, often times I do NOT want to. But I am trying and I hope someday I can be the person God wants me to be. I will say, since I started receiving these morning readings a few months ago, I have felt more in touch with God than in all my 67 years. I can’t thank you all enough for sharing these words, both the women at (in)courage and the community of those commenting. THANK YOU ONE AND ALL!
You can not begin to know how this is an answer to our prayers. Our hearts desire is that women will be encouraged and equipped on this journey. Thank you so much for sharing this.
“since I started receiving these morning readings a few months ago, I have felt more in touch with God than in all my 67 years”
Much love to you on this Monday morning,
One of the best articles I have read – and I read a lot. Thank you for this. I need to re-read this every single day.
So grateful for your encouragement. Writing has been challenging for me lately and I need to preach my own life lesson of this devotional to my heart every day.
It’s a continual desire to surrender it all to Him.
Thank you for your comment.
This is so true. It is hard to feel and show compassion and understanding if you have been wronged. It is a choice. God will help us and by His power we can eventually come to this place of forgiveness. That verse Jen mentioned above, Exodus 23: 22, is a great reminder of how God will defend us. Thank you for these words!
Yes, it’s a daily choice to seek compassion and empathy to those who’ve wronged us and it’s definitely one of the hardest daily decisions.
To Him be the Glory!!
I am so thankful for this timely message! I really needed this today.
While it is so difficult to remember in “those moments” with some people in my life, the mighty Lord “has my back”. ❤
You’re so welcome, Ann.
The Lord is our defender even when it’s hard.
Thank you Jen for this message this morning .
Blessings to all,
You’re welcome, Penny.
I hope you had a wonderful weekend.
BC from BC says
Thank you for this awesome post. I needed to hear this and be reminded that God is in Control, not me. I need to continue to surrender every day of my life to Him and let His will be done.
You’re welcome, BC.
It’s one of those lessons that I preach to myself every morning.
Judy Richards says
I needed to hear this as I’m dealing with all the anxiety of not getting the vaccine and listening to people who flaunt that they
have it and “they’re in”. I’m feeling pushed to defend myself. And knowing that I can let go of that and let God defend me is comforting. He loves each one of us, takes care of us and is with us no matter the circumstances. Thanks for this reminder that I can let go and let God.
Oh Judy –
I really understand this. It’s such a hard time we are living in when so many people think they know what’s best for others in a variety of scenarios. People don’t understand the road you’re walking and you certainly don’t need to give them reasons for your choice. There is no biblically right or wrong mandate in this decision so walk in freedom wherever you land.
Praying continued wisdom and peace over you and your decisions making processes this Monday morning.
I didn’t defend myself for the longest time. BUT ONE DAY I heard a preacher say sometimes you have to open your mouth that God is waiting for us to move. When I did finally speak on my own behalf – not in anger or with malice – things started to change. It was a long road, and I don’t think that all of the damage has been repaired, but I did see some change.
Yes, as I mentioned above, “If you must defend yourself, God allows that. It’s not a biblical mandate to stay silent. Often clarification of miscommunication is necessary”.
I think you mentioned something critical – you did it without anger or malice, that is so key and often something we forget when we “react” rather than respond in grace. Thankful to hear that there’s been some restoration in the relationship.
Clarinda Fong says
Our present world often demands that we take sides, stand up and be counted or even take real action to see our agenda is forced on everyone around us. Standing in silence, praying for our enemy isn’t fashionable or very “logical” so I am thankful for this devotional thought that reminds me that God is indeed in charge of righting all wrongs in His time and in His way and I can fully trust him with the wrongs, injustices. Thank you and thank God for His redeeming love.
“Our present world often demands that we take sides, stand up and be counted or even take real action to see our agenda is forced on everyone around us”
Yes and it’s SO exhausting, isn’t it? Even in Christian circles we haven’t dug deep into the truth of His word on how critical it is to surrender this.
Blessings on this Monday morning, Clarinda.
Ann Wood says
Defended myself & it never ends well as I’m a reactor. When someone comes @ me in attack mode, I attack back! Not once has that ever paid off for me, personally
oh Ann –
You are not alone in this. I think most often our instinct is the mama bear reactor rather than a slow response in grace. It’s a life long journey of stepping back in prayer and asking Him to be our responder. I’m still on that road. 🙂
Nancy Kavanagh says
I just recently came upon a situation that some say I should have stood my ground and fought the battle. But I have put it in God’s hands and know that in His time the battle that is not really mine to begin with will be resolved. Thank you for this today. The last few days it seems have all spoken to me regarding this very same thing.
Praying for your situation as I know workin through these things takes time. While I don’t know the specifics, it’s never a bad decision to step back and allow the Lord to speak into a situation and give us time to pray through the best grace filled response. There may be a time to step forward but so glad you feel peace where you are right now.
Nancy Ruegg says
Thank you for sharing the powerful example of your parents, Jennifer. Now, decades later, their legacy is ministering to this large (in)courage community. I’m sure they had no idea of their impact, that those early morning prayers of blessing-over-enemies would touch the hearts of future generations and strangers. Also appreciate your affirmation that God is faithful–ALWAYS–even when injustice invades our circumstances. Wonderful encouragement, Jennifer!
Thank you for your encouraging words and yes, all these decades later, their ministry through this situation still impacts generations of our family. We never got that pretty bow but what we received was a deeper, stronger legacy because of the tough times.
I watched my parents go through this in ministry. To this day, it is etched in my mind. This situation brought my father’s weeping to mind as he thought I was downstairs and couldn’t hear. What a legacy our parents have left us!
Yes, we know that we’ve received is a rare gift, don’t we? Thankful for your parents.
I struggle with this on a daily basis . I am going through a horrible divorce to a narcissist and he is lying about everything. It is so hard to keep my.mouth shut. I have already gone no contact with him but it is excruciatingly painful on a daily basis. He has lied about me to one of my children, thus turning my son away from me. But my God is so mich bigger than his satan. And God will be the Victor. In fact, He already is. No matter what, God loves me. Psalm 96 says “This I know, that God is for me”. And that is what I hang on to. Every. Single. Day. May He be glorified.
This is a time I wish I wan’t typing through a computer so I could invite you around my table, give you a big hug, serve you some coffee and muffins and pray with you. This is HARD!!! I am sure right now, it feels like there’s nothing much harder that you could go through so I will pray for wisdom, comfort and grace filled words to fill your heart and mind. My momma heart grieves with you on a deep level for the pain you’re feeling. I am SOO VERY SORRY!!!
Praying now that you know how loved you are by our creator and Lord and that He will be your defender and right your wrongs. I can’t guarantee a time table and unfortunately you may not see full restoration in your lifetime, but I am praying that it’s SOON!
Much love from my corner of NC. Wish you were sitting here with me.
Theresa Boedeker says
What an example they set, and never even realized it at the time.
Yes Theresa –
Decades later and their choices have impacted generations.
Becky Keife says
Jen, what a powerful real-life, timely and timeless lesson. Thank you!
While we struggle on earth about fairness and justice, thank you for telling us the right way to do it, and sharing your parents’ example so that we know it is possible.
Thank you! Powerful!