When push comes to shove, how do you react? When you are being threatened—your reputation, your status, your well-being—how do you respond?
I confess that I fail soooooo often in this. My “significance” is far too easily threatened, and I react strongly if I feel like I haven’t been given a voice, or if an idea is stolen, or if my contribution isn’t recognized.
(Actually that list of “or”s could go on and on. It’s almost embarrassing).
However, the response to shame and humiliation I find in Isaiah (and modeled perfectly in Jesus’ passion) is radically different.
I offered my back to those who beat me
And my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard.
I did not hide my face
From mockery or spitting.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
Therefore I have set my face like a stone,
Determined to do His will.
And I know that I will not be put to shame.
He who gives me justice is near. (Isaiah 50:6-8)
I believe that scriptures like this flowed through Jesus mind and heart as he endured the beating, pain, and humiliation before his eventual execution. He didn’t endure the suffering just because God wanted him to die; he endured because of his steadfast belief that God would vindicate him (and God did through the empty tomb; the resurrection wasn’t just a really cool magic trick, it was an adamant, non-negotiable vindication of Jesus’ Messianic claims).
He who gave Jesus justice was near.
If/when we find ourselves in similar situations, what would it mean to release the right to retaliate and respond in anger, because we know God is near to us, because we know His justice will someday come, and that justice will vindicate us?
(BTW, yes, I’m preaching to myself.)