I don't know if you noticed, but the Tigers have already beaten the Indians as many times this season as they did all last year. And that is even without winning last night's game (as they should have)! I am thinking the Tigers are going to give the Indians a major payback this year ... which will reverse the order of who gets into the playoffs at season's end.

While I am looking forward to the Tigers treating the Indians this way, I am extremely thankful that God does not treat us this way. Yes, I know that the Lord says, "Vengeance is mine." (Deuteronomy 32.35), but that is explained when we are told, "Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.'" (Romans 12.19). In other words, we are supposed to let God handle things his way (outside of baseball, that is ... of course, what is going on between Boston and Baltimore is another story).

And his way is a wondrous and gracious way. When we fight against God, he does not take it personally. Rather, he immediately recognizes the root cause for what it is - the evil that is in and around us, the evil that drenches us with fear, shame, loneliness, and death. He takes his vengeance out on them.

And what about us? "Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy." (Isaiah 61.7) Not only does God promise to restore what evil seeks to steal, he does it in the best 'two for one deal' ever. For every single thing evil seems to steal from us, God gives us two things to replace it.

Consider God's servant Job. At the beginning of his story (Job 1.2) he had seven sons and three daughters. At the end of the story (42.4), he had fourteen sons (seven on earth and seven in heaven) and six daughters (three on earth and three in heaven). And please don't think for a moment he is going to treat you any differently.

This is because God does, in fact, take our sin and evil personally. He takes it all into the person of Jesus. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5.21)

This is how God 'pays us back.' He fills the messy holes we dig for ourselves, and then builds a mountain of gold on top that is as high as the original hole was deep. No matter how great the mess-up (or the pain), that always remains his goal and promise.

His reason for doing this is two-fold. First it is simply who he is - our Savior. And second, the extreme abundance is given so that we might be his 'hole filling assistants.' "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort, too." (2 Corinthians 1.3-5)

Or, simply put, payback was hell for Jesus, but heaven for us! (If this gives you any comfort this day, you should have enough surplus to spread it around wherever you go ... and, in case you haven't noticed it, we are surrounded by people in need of it.)