A Prayer for Growing Thick Skin and a Big Heart

     Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with goodRom. 12:17-21

     Dear Lord Jesus, apart from your grace and Spirit, the admonitions in this one passage mock our sensibilities. We cannot live this way without you, Jesus. Everything within us instinctively wants to get even when we are hurt by others.

     Whether it’s a “lighthearted” insult or an outright assault, our forgotten birthday or a remembered failure; whether we’re excluded from a party or included in someone’s gossip, relational pain hurts like nothing else. And too often, the pain we feel gets recycled and redistributed to others.

     Jesus, we ask you for thick skin and a big heart. We want to love well—when it’s easy and when it’s not. Help us remember that your name is Redeemer, and that when appropriate, you will repay, you will avenge.    Indeed, more clearly than we see those who hurt us, let us you—the one who cherishes us. More than we desire to see burning coals heaped on their heads, let us see you, crowned Lord of all. We can overcome evil with good only because you have crushed evil under your feet.

     And Jesus, where we’re just too sensitive, too easily offended, too quick to keep a record of wrongs done to us, too slow to overlook the failures of others, have mercy on us. Free us to do the right thing in the moment—the gospel thing.

     Show us how to make peace, guard peace, and nurture peace with everyone—as far as we are able. All of this is simply impossible apart from you, Jesus—our peace and Peacemaker. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and sufficient name.