God’s Vengeance in Small Matters

“Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,’ says the Lord.” – Romans 12:19

About a week ago, I was on the train heading to work. A young man was sitting directly in front of me, and a mother and her young daughter was seated behind me. The man, probably no older than 25, spent the entire train ride talking loudly on his cell phone about very personal things to his girlfriend. Though I was not seated in the “quiet car,” where you are not allowed to talk or use electronic devices, no one else in the train car was talking. So everyone was forced to reluctantly listen to this young man’s conversation.

Throughout the conversation, the young man used vulgar profanity. I could feel the mother’s censorious gaze burning right through the back of my seat and feared my hair might catch aflame. I buried my head into the book lying dormant in my outstretched hands, but could not concentrate well enough to read with comprehension.

When we arrived at the penultimate train stop, the mother and daughter ascended their seats to leave. As she passed, the mother turned around and scowled at the young man. Unfortunately, his relentless conversation made him oblivious to her unsubtle, nonverbal feedback.

I tried to think of something to say or do to the man, once I arrived at our destination to express the train car’s collective and unspoken aggravation with him. But ultimately, I could only think of these words… “‘Vengeance is Mine,’ says the Lord, ‘I shall repay.'” I decided to let the whole episode loose from my mind and have faith (albeit blind) that the Lord would somehow, at some unforeseen time, correct this young man’s imprudent ways.

I didn’t at all think I would have the privilege of ever seeing such godly correction or discipline myself.

This morning, after getting off the train, I discovered that this same young man was walking directly in front of me, wearing the same smart suit he did last week. When we exited onto the streets of DC, up went my umbrella. The skies were open, and rain poured down upon the city with unrelenting ease. Though surrounded by thoughtful commuters toting a multitude of umbrellas in myriad colors, this man had no umbrella. He walked briskly down the sidewalk, dodging pesky impending pedestrians – his fine suit the only protection from the descending shower. To my bashful delight, he missed the crosswalk signal and had to wait with the rest of us by the street corner.

I considered how evil I was to delight in this swaggering, young man’s dilemma. But I also considered how wonderful it was to witness what I believed to be God’s vengeance in a most modest matter such as this.

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