Vessels of Wrath and Their Destruction

In light of varying responses from Christians, non-Christians, Republicans, Democrats,, it’s tempting to just say, “no comment” and move on with today’s news that Osama Bin Laden was killed last night.  Status updates on Facebook and Twitter feeds keep us within a certain character limit that is nowhere near sufficient for reflection.  If you find cause to celebrate the end of a decade-long manhunt to capture or kill the man behind the deaths of over 3,000 Americans, someone is sure to post a note about it being God’s to avenge.  If you are a believer and post something about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you, your more patriotic friends and acquaintances flare up and declare that justice has been served.  Everyone wants an opportunity to step up on the soapbox that is social networking, spit out something clever and/or abrasive, and wait for the likes, retweets, and comments to roll in.

I think it is good for us to post these things – it keeps us thinking and dialoguing with one another – but I also think the world is complicated, and I think God’s ways are mysterious.  As I refresh my wall on Facebook, I find myself nodding, yes, yes, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, and then another, yes, good has triumphed over evil, yes, he is gone, an enemy is vanquished, a step is taken toward victory in what seems a neverending war against powers of darkness.  I think, yes, it is true that vengeance is the Lord’s, and he will repay, but then I think, God has given the people of the world governments to uphold justice.  Government is “a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil” (Romans 14:4).  I think, yes, it is our hope that none shall perish but have everlasting life in Christ, but also God is sovereign and raises up vessels of wrath, prepared for destruction. 

Pray for our enemies, yes, pray for their souls.  David prayed to God that he would be delivered from his enemies.  Often that came about the same way we have been delivered from our enemies – at the hands of men in an army of a nation.  I want to tip-toe through this minefield, but I do believe that upholding good and fighting against evil is a charge and a responsibility that God has given the governing body of this country.  I think we can all agree that bin Laden and his mission were evil, and that left to his own devices, he would have done much more than 9/11.  Of course we pray and hope that the world would lay down its weapons.  But as long as evil continues to strike down the innocent, I hope we will not deny the sword its power to serve justice.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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