Bad things happen to everyone. Awful thing happens to some. Sin knows no limits. Everyone (at some level) is a victim and a victimizer. We’ve all sinned against others and we’ve all been sinned against by others. While everyone is a genuine victim of something, our analysis may not stop there. What comes next makes all the difference. The response of a victim matters.
First, there are those who feed and nurture their victimization. This ranges from those who have felt some slight offence and who then have the ability to nurture that offence into a permanent status, to those who have been seriously assaulted, offended and injured. Being a victim is who they are; it’s part of their identity. They cultivate a taste for bitterness or revenge. It also becomes a way of drawing attention to themselves and a means of excusing all kinds of bad behavior of their own (e.g., anger, addiction, irresponsibility, etc.). It’s a sinful response to having been sinned against. The temptation to be a permanent victim is so strong for some that we even see people who will fabricate or exaggerate stories to support their victimhood. Everything that they do wrong is rooted in and excused by what someone else has done to them. Adam got the victim ball rolling when he told God: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). In other words, Adam wouldn’t have sinned if God hadn’t given him that woman. Adam was a victim and God was the victimizer.
Second, there are those who have been victimized i.e., sinned against—some in a most grievous manner—who have a different kind of response. They become victors over the sins committed against them. They might confront the sin, cover the sin, cast their care upon God, turn the other cheek, bless those that curse them, pray, pity, learn, and even rejoice. Godly responses to ungodly behavior always produce better results. Sin kills, and “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56-57). The victor faces adversity with a different perspective; a perspective that reflects reality:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. —Romans 8:35-39
Victims see only themselves; victors see beyond themselves. Victims are destroyed by the circumstances; victors overcome the circumstances. The story is always bigger than the moment, and we are part of the story. God is at work in whatever trouble comes our way, even if that trouble involves the evil of others. After Joseph’s brothers had victimized him, which led to him being sold into slavery, falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife, and falsely imprisoned and forgotten, yet we are told that in all these situations, “the Lord was with him.” Joseph never saw himself as a victim but rather as a victor. In the end God elevated him and used him for great things. When he finally confronted his brothers over the evil they had perpetrated against him:
Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. —Genesis 50:19-21
There is no question about whether we will be sinned against, only a question of how we will respond when we are sinned against? Victims or victors? “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5).