If you’re facing divorce, or you’re already in a court case, you may want revenge.
If you have never been so hurt by someone that you wanted revenge, then you’re in a small minority of people. The other 99.8% of us have been leapfrogged in life at some point. Someone took credit for your idea, maybe. Someone excluded you. As you get older, life gives you adult reasons for wanting revenge. Someone turned your child against you. Someone cheated you financially or in your marriage, and when that happens, the stakes can be high.
Unintended Revenge: A Legal Perspective and Personal Experience
I’m well-acquainted with the concept of revenge. In my work as a family court litigator, there are occasions when my legal services unintentionally become a means for seeking retribution. Many times, I’m not even aware that I’m being employed to pursue a just response to wrongdoing.
My client is suffering, and we find a needle in the haystack, or make a creative legal argument and success has appeared where it seemed impossible.
I also know about revenge personally. For ten years, I suffered a situation that made me want, if not revenge, vindication. Someone in my personal life was on a campaign to get me. Twice in that ten years, the truth was revealed. The first time, I learned the truth. But the second time, everyone saw it. People who were there told others. That cat was out of the bag and it freed me, in a sense.
Understanding Revenge: Lessons from the Life of David
I’m a member of Christ’s Church of the Valley. Today when I sat in church and the pastor, Dr. Mark Moore, talked about revenge, I could relate. If you’ve ever wanted revenge and imagined exacting revenge against someone who hurt you, credit your dorsal striatum, the part of your brain associated with angry rumination in response to provocation and punishment.
Dr. Moore’s talk about revenge was focused on the life of David. David of David and Goliath fame, that is. The guy who was a shepherd and with a single slingshot, because he had the benefit of both sight and movement, was able to take down his well-protected, sight-challenged, heavily armored opponent. Goliath was so weighed down by all the armor protecting him, he couldn’t move to engage in battle!
David had many enemies, and one was his best friend’s father Saul. David had been promised by God that God would strike down Saul by no hand of David’s, and therefore, David did not take advantage of multiple chances to destroy Saul. This earned David a lot of respect. His allies watched him suffer, and wait, and sometimes, both. David sat in a cave with his enemy completely exposed and took no action against Saul. Mark’s words, “Your best story isn’t from the crown you wear, but the cave you dwell in,” acknowledged that vengeance is a righteous thing. People want to “make things right.” But as the Apostle Paul said, “Do not take revenge…but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (See Romans 12:19)
Praying for Revenge: Finding Release Through Honesty with God
That wait can be interminable, but being honest with God, if and when you do pray, releases the revenge. Dr. Moore actually suggested that we pray for exactly what we want to see happen to our enemy. Like any father for a child, God would prefer to be the one to exact it for you. Consider what you can do for your child to a playground bully. How many playground bullies in your life would you like to see God, at the very least, redirect?
In my situation I described earlier, I wish I could detail exactly the process of the vengeance. It was a process too complex for me to have orchestrated. Everyone whose actions contributed to the outcome was as shocked as me – none of us had planned, or could have planned, this masterpiece.
I’ve seen God do this time and again. If you’re in a cave, just know, vengeance is on the way. People will admire you far more for the suffering they observe than for the insufficient vengeance you could try to design on your own. Vengeance, when righteous, will exceed your wildest dreams. It will be more incredible than anything you can imagine on your own.