Recently at Parkview we hosted a seminar on the current state of sex trafficking/sex slavery in the United States and in other countries. I was unable to attend, but my friend on staff who helped organize the event shared with me a few of the stories that field agents and safe house workers shared with the group.
As I walked around my yard, picking up sticks and playing with my daughter, I thought about how I would feel if that horrid story that was rolling around in my mind were to happen to my daughter. If it was her little life, her pure soul and her dignity that were to be robbed for the sake of the unrestrained drives of deeply broken men and women.
And then I prayed.
"God, I want you to harm those men. I want you to wreak violence on them, Old Testament-style violence on them, bring them pain and suffering for the pain and suffering they brought on those poor children."
My heart was split. I really did want that, I desired it, I would even go so far as to say I'd be willing to be present for the whole thing and watch it.
I felt like the Psalmist who, while trapped in exile at the hands of the cruel Babylonians, prayed:
Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!” O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed, blessed shall he be who repays you with what you have done to us! Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones and dashes them against the rock! (Psalm 137:8-9)
I could resonate with that. You caused someone pain - you should receive pain in return. Eye for an eye. Old school.
Yet God's response to me was "You really don't want that, do you?"
At first I said yes, but then had to seriously consider one seminal point:
God's grace is grace for everyone. The grace for them is the same as the grace for me. If I am not repaid, then why should they be?
The point of praying these angry, emotive, vindictive, Psalm 137-type prayers is to remind us of reality - the reality that grace does not follow the code of law or a graded scale of sin that ranks some higher than the other. Grace reminds me that I've been given, so my job is to give it as a conduit to others.
Is it better that God smite these perpetrators or that I pray in this way and realize my best reaction is to become more passionate about rescuing the victims?
I don't know. I know that I took a strange amount of comfort in courageously naming my anger and vengeance to God, and learning from that experience.
Do you have a Psalm 137 prayer building in you? Let it out - and learn from the ripples.