“Forgiveness is a gift from God.” These are the words God laid on my heart many months ago. I didn’t like them. They went against what I wanted to feel – which was resentment.
We know we are called to forgive… and maybe even forget. Sounds good, all wrapped up in a neat little package. Easier said than done, though, right? When we have been hurt so deeply that we feel as though we have lost our entire identity; that we have made all of the wrong decisions; that all of the morals and foundation that we were set on are now cracked – there’s a level of forgiveness and grace that must be achieved in order to heal.
And I’m here to tell ya, it ain’t easy.
Think for a moment. We kind of like holding on to the things that hurt us, don’t we? It gives us something to mull over – an excuse to act a certain way. I don’t have to serve my neighbor if I’m still mad at him for running over my newly planted flowers six months ago. I don’t have to accept invitations out where people may see me and talk about me while I’m still holding onto that hurt.
Of course, the thought of forgiveness dances across your mind from time to time. You outwardly tell people you’re good, that you have forgiven, and you’ve moved on.
Then that song plays on the radio or you hear about someone from an acquaintance. In that moment, you are right back smack in the middle of your hurt, pain, and disappointment.
What if it’s deeper than that? What if you have allowed your unforgiving to become bitterness? You are now blaming others for the things that have happened to you. I know, friend.
Listen, people will always disappoint you. And I know how much easier it is to look at someone and think, my struggles are because of you. It begs the question – how do you forgive someone or some situation that has caused you this much anguish?
The honest answer – you can’t. Not that you can’t ever, just that it takes a whole lot of heart work to get there.
Did you catch that? I didn’t mean hard work. I mean heart work. I mean calling out to Jesus day and night – at the dinner table, on the bleachers at your kid’s game, while you’re working in your garden.
Because Jesus can show you how, even when you have not personally done anything to cause your situation or when you can trace the root of your hurt all the way back to yourself, you have to become like him and choose forgiveness. Through this process, His grace pours over us and allows us to do this act of forgiving that is contrary to what the world tells us we should do. It is the miraculous act of setting ourselves aside and loving our enemies.
And isn’t that what it’s all about? Didn’t King Jesus literally walk through this exact kind of torment, having every right to feel that He didn’t deserve to have to suffer and die for all of us who are ungrateful, but chose to anyway? That’s real love. That’s real forgiveness.
He enables that level of love and forgiveness in our own hearts if we ask Him to help us walk through it. It may not be natural. In fact, it feels a lot like trying to learn to tango with a cast on one leg. But you can do it. You can limp through it and learn to enjoy the dance. And at the end of it, there is sweet peace and rest. Real rest that is cradled in the arms of Jesus.
Psalm 103:10-14 – He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins, for his mercy toward those who fear and honor him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far away from us as the east is from the west. He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence him. For he knows we are but dust.
Ephesians 4:31-32 – Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
2 Corinthians 12:9 – Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.
Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take
On this Independence Day, take time to thank God for the freedom we are given by virtue of His Spirit and where we are geographically placed in order to serve and worship Him without wrath or fear.
If you are struggling, reach out to me. I’d love to talk with you and pray with you!