When my husband and I were engaged and preparing our wedding, the handwritten guest list went missing. As I frantically rummaged through piles of papers, an image of him taking the list to make his own additions flashed in my mind. I jerked my head up and said in the most accusatory tone I could muster, “It was you!” Except it wasn’t. An hour later, I found the crumpled list among my things. Cue ashamed pre-wedding stress sobs.
One of the most trying experiences of human life is being falsely accused. Someone misunderstands you and believes the worst about you…and makes sure everyone knows their interpretation of events. Something goes awry at work and the fingers point at you, though you are innocent. With tools like social media at our fingertips, accusations both false and true, spread like wildlife.
In Psalm 17, the psalmist is devastated by the false attacks against his character. Instead of crafting the perfect personal defense, the writer turns to God, pleading for vindication from on high. The writer recognizes that salvation from God alone can deliver him. But also, the writer openly acknowledges that it is not his job to attack his enemies. Rather, he entrusts his reputation to God and releases his enemies to God’s righteous action. He concludes,
As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.
Peace comes, not from revenge or personally righting all the wrongs committed against you. Peace comes from resting in God’s good intentions and care for us.
How does it feel when you’ve been falsely accused or egregiously misunderstood? What sensations do experience in your body, mind, and heart?
How might you guard against automatic defensive reactions and instead trust God to vindicate you and bring the truth to light? Maybe an intentional 30-minute pause before sending any texts or emails or closing your office door and settling your heart in prayer before speaking directly to you accuser. Rooting ourselves in God’s love and in God’s perfect knowledge of our hearts can guard us against angry, defensive posturing with others.
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Grace and Peace