Abbot Tryphon, an Orthodox monastic from Vashon Island, Washington, was attacked by a stranger this week. The host of the popular podcast The Morning Offering was pumping gas when a man approached him asking, “How’s Trump?” before sucker-punching Tryphon, who is in his seventies.
I’ve planned to write a post about the command to pray for our enemies for some time. I wanted to discuss my own struggles with this directive, and how wounding it is to my pride to pray for people that are spiteful or don’t seem to have my best interests at heart.
But the example of the abbot puts to shame anything I would have written. This is from his Facebook page:
I find myself filled with compassion and love for the poor tortured soul who was driven to commit such a heinous act. That a young man would sucker punch an obviously old man, and a stranger to him, is truly hard for me to comprehend. Even more, I am praying for my attacker. The reason is this: Although I am imperfect, and a terrible sinner, I am graced to live a fulfilling and fruitful life, assured of God’s love for me and surrounded by people who love me also. Not so the man who sucker punched me. His pointless act suggests someone filled with loathing for those around him and even more for himself. What inner torment could cause him to lash out at someone who has done him no harm? He is his own victim even more than I am his victim. I know I have forgiven him, but can he forgive himself ? My prayer for him is that he can find the courage to ask God to forgive him.
An Example of Mercy
“But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” – Matt 5:44
The mercy Abbot Tryphon has shown is far beyond anything I’m capable of at this stage in my Christian walk. I consider it a miracle that I’m even able to put aside my anger to pray for coworkers who stand in the way of my goals or the recognition of my achievements. To see the abbot pray mercy upon someone who has physically attacked him is hard for me to even comprehend.
But God has shown us such great mercy, and is the perfect example to us of forgiveness. He prayed for those who crucified Him and then stood to witness His death.
Let us resolve to follow this example. Pray for God’s blessings on your enemies. Pray for their wellbeing and material prosperity. Be merciful to those who despise you, as Christ commanded.
Pray for Abbot Tryphon; for his health and for God’s mercy as he lives as an example of forgiveness. Pray for me, a sinner who struggles to forgive.