A Prayer For Thick Skin And A Big Heart
My friend Scotty Smith, Pastor for Preaching, Teaching, and Worship at Christ Community Church (PCA) in Franklin, Tennessee penned the prayer below on his blog yesterday. In light of the trials and difficulties we face as a church, I cannot think of a prayer that is more fitting, more comforting, more convicting. This prayer is a great reminder that in the end, those who love and live the gospel will succeed. It is those who trust God even when they cannot trace him–those who humbly leave all things up to him and who refuse to avenge themselves–that will remain standing. Those who take matters into their own hands, seeking to avenge themselves will be opposed by God. O how we all need to remember these things.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:17-21:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Here is Scotty’s prayer based on Romans 12:17-21:
Dear Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, apart from you, the admonitions in this passage mock our sensibilities. Everything within us instinctively wants to get even when we are hurt by others. Whether it’s a “light-hearted” insult or an outright assault; whether it’s our forgotten birthday or a remembered failure; whether we’re excluded from a party or included in someone’s madness… so often, too often, the pain we feel get’s recycled and redistributed to others.
We ask you for thick skin and a big heart, Jesus. We want to love well in the presence of everything from non-intended slights to full bore evil. Where evil has already deeply wounded us or is presently lurking, Jesus, let us remember, even deeper in our hearts, that you will repay, you will avenge. Because you have already overcome evil on the cross and have secured its utter annihilation, we can dare to imagine overcoming evil with good. We are clueless about feeding hungry, thirsty enemies, Jesus. Take our hand and show us the way.
And where we are just too sensitive, Jesus, too easily offended, too ready to keep record of wrongs done to us… may the gospel bring us much greater freedom. May this be a week, Jesus, of overlooking everything that should be overlooked, of dealing wisely as peacemakers with the situations we must confront, and a week of revoking all revenge in light of the Day you return to make all things new. All for your glory we ask these things, Jesus. Amen