By Kris Reece – Author of Build a Beautiful Life Out of Broken Pieces
Raise your hand if have ever had to suffer the consequences of your actions—can you give an example or two here, such as “you waited until the last minute to start a big presentation, and then flubbed your chance to make a good impression, for example”?
When your own actions bring results that are painful, you may you wish that you didn’t have to go through it, but knowing that you played a direct role in situation makes it more bearable.
But what happens when you suffer at the hand of someone else’s poor decision? This is what’s known as collateral damage—when the destruction of one thing causes harm elsewhere. It is being caught in the crossfire.
It happens more often than you might think. It certainly happened with Sam.
When I first Sam, he told me, “The biggest mistake of my life was marrying that woman.” He was referring to his ex-wife. They had been divorced for over 9 years. Despite the fact that she had been unfaithful in the marriage and she had asked for the divorce, his ex was so bitter and angry that she filed one court motion after another accusing him of horrific things.
She succeeded in many of her court motions to strip Sam of his finances; she verbally bashed him to everyone in town driving him out and away from his children. And even now, nine years later, he continually has to defend himself to his children from her relentless accusations.
“Look, I’m a big boy, I can deal with this for the most part, but what this woman does is affecting not only my new marriage but it is having a terrible effect on my children,” Sam said with frustration.
Sam–along with his new wife, his friends, and his children–has become collateral damage to the wicked actions of this woman.
I know, because Sam (not his real name) is my husband, and his ex has been a huge presence in our marriage and our life.
I have prayed and prayed over this. I’ve checked and re-checked God’s Word, and here are the best ways I have found to minimize the hurt when you become collateral damage. I hope that you won’t have to use this information in your own life, but if you have read this far, I’m guessing that you already do.
- Trust in God’s justice. In the midst of all the suffering in this world, it may seem like God who just sits back and allows injustice. I assure you, this is not the case. I encourage you to remember that, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.” (Psalm 89:14) Justice will be served. It may not be in your timing but justice will be served for the wicked.
So you do not need to fret over evil-doers or fight them tooth and nail, because in due season they will reap their harvest. Many times God is giving them the opportunity to repent and turn from their ways. If they don’t, He will be justified in his vengeance. I try to think of all the times that I was thankful that God’s justice wasn’t served on me—instances when He gave me plenty of opportunities.
- Allow Him to use this experience to make you better. “If God is allowing this, He will use this for your good and His glory.”(Romans 8:28)Often times when we are suffering the last thing we think to do is to Praise God. Instead, we focus on a solution or vindication or we slip into the victim role. We obsess over what was done to us and how we have suffered as a result. Take your focus off of what you’ve lost and focus it on the One who will repay you and repay the evil doers.
Remember, “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6)
- Fight right. God’s word says, “We don’t battle against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12.) If this is the case, then why spend time battling with evil people? Instead, wage war against the evil spirits that drive these wicked people. How? “Let the Lord rebuke them.” (Jude 1:9) And go about your business knowing that the Lord is your protector and when you bring your injustice before His courts, the verdict is Victory.
So the next time you are collateral damage know that your God has not forgotten you. He will bring victory if you will just have faith.