Turn the other cheek. Don’t repay evil with evil. These are statements I’ve heard most of my life, but being a literal type of person, I’ve never truly understood the concept. It is easy to get confused when we see wars being waged between countries with differing ideals and values. Court systems that define death sentences. What is right? The Bible is filled with wars waged under God’s direction. So what does it mean then to turn the other cheek?
When Jesus said we should turn the other cheek, I pictured two people standing face to face and one striking the other and the stricken one not retaliating. This would be a very literal translation, and I’m sure if this was the situation, Jesus would want us to turn and walk away rather than engage in a slapping match, which would accomplish nothing.
Very recently, I lost my son to an act of suicide. This was a shock to our entire family. Grieving and not understanding, we made a several hour journey together to attend the funeral. There were extenuating circumstances which made this even harder for us.
Quite frankly, we didn’t know what to expect. Without going into details, our family was blessed to meet with co-workers and friends who had been close to him. But there was another small fraction of people who seemed to go out of their way to make our time of grieving into a hostile environment.
I’ve told the story to several of my Christian sisters and brothers, trying to understand how someone could be so hateful. Though there is the possibility of holding resentment and anger, it would only fuel more pain and sleepless nights. Over the past few weeks, God helped me understand what the Bible meant by turning the other cheek, and not repaying evil with evil. Nothing can be gained from carrying a “grudge” but more heartache.
In this lifetime, our family may never learn the truth of why my son decided to take his life, or what factors may have come into play. I stand on God’s promise that He has a plan that is not meant to harm us. Even in the worst of circumstances, God can bring goodness.
My heart is healing through forgiveness, through turning the other cheek, and not repaying evil with evil. Faith restores me, and I thank Jesus every day for walking with me through this trial.