Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

I have a question to ask. I have been a Christian for my whole adult life and I know that God will never leave me. After 23 years of marriage and three very godly kids, my husband cheated on me and then divorced me. He ripped our family apart. I really have not told anyone at church and I really don't want people to know, but I just need to know that God will make him and her pay for what they have done! I am being very godly; I have not done anything to get back at them but I have prayed that God would. I know that God is a God of grace but I need to know that God will discipline him. My kids are 23, 20 and 18. I raised them in Christ and they do not believe in sex before marriage. My ex was not a good Christian so they are not that shocked, but my kids and I are. I really want them to see God at work in me and also in them. Thanks, I hope you can help me find the faith to stay godly.

Sincerely, F

Dear F,

Of course you want vengeance on him. I’d want God to bring vengeance on him, too. Just because God says, “ … It is mine to avenge; I will repay” (Romans 12:18-19), doesn’t preclude our own desire to get even — and even more.

It is neither unspiritual nor unchristian to want to see them suffer. These feelings are natural, honest, God-given human emotions. What we do with them is what matters. We don’t want the anger to ooze into bitterness, nor do we want unforgiveness to fill our souls.

I’ve had my share of enemies through out 40+ years of ministry. I hate to admit it, but I’ve had unchristian thoughts and prayed for God to bring judgment and vengeance on those who’ve hurt me. I used to feel quite guilty about this until I discovered that David had the same feelings.

On more than one occasion I’ve prayed imprecatory Psalms with David. My special favorite is in Psalm 97. Writing about one particular adversary, David prayed:

May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; …  May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. May their sins always remain before the LORD, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth (Psalm 109:7-15).

My heart aches for you — and for the broken family around you. The betrayal is intense. The pain you see in your children brings you double anguish. You have your own hurts; but you also hurt for your children.

Once upon a time a man in our church wanted to get me fired. I realize now that I hurt him as much as he hurt me. I didn’t see that then; I just wanted God to bring dastardly destruction upon him. After one particular maneuver he said to one of our elders, “I have him now. They’ll be lined up outside his door on Monday morning demanding his resignation.” Well, nobody lined up outside my door. No one demanded my resignation. He and his small entourage soon left for another church.