Read: Psalm 41
… O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you.
The psalmist is sick. He’s not just sick, but gravely ill. It’s bad enough that his enemies are gloating over his condition, but even his best friend – his bosom buddy – has turned against him. OMG! What’s interesting, though, is that the psalmist doesn’t ask for forgiveness for his sin, but rather restoration to health so he can “repay” his enemies. Ah, “revenge is a dish best served cold” (a Klingon axiom).
I suppose there is a certain satisfaction with revenge or seeing our bêtes noirs receiving their just desserts, and yet I find such an attitude quite lacking in the Spirit of Christ, who calls us to forgive and to leave judgment to God. I have found that sort of satisfaction, like sweets themselves, quite tasty in the short run, but lacking in nutritional value. It may satisfy my sweet tooth for the moment but leaves me hungry and wanting later. Jesus offers to feed us with nothing less than himself, and I have found over the years that to eat and drink at the Lord’s table has often brought me out of my need (or desire) for vengeance. God is immensely satisfying, even when I hurt.
God, you know I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed; by things done and left undone. And yet, for some strange reason, you’d rather keep me in the fold than wreak vengeance upon me. So be it. Help me to be just as gracious towards those who trouble me. For that, I certainly need your help. Amen.
-The Rev. Keith Axberg