Forgiveness. Just the word reminds me of hurt. It’s probably the toughest thing we ever struggle with, and if we’ve faced hurt over and over, it can seem downright impossible.
Today, my sweet friend Diane shares a fresh experience that challenged her to forgive – and some fresh insight from the process.
It was like a nightmare when she spat the words: “You are a liar.” And if that wasn’t hurtful enough, she continued, “…and reckless and irresponsible.”
I reeled. And that was only part of her long string of untrue accusations. Talking about it now is like trying to tell you about a story that I read about someone else in a book. The essence is loss of a friendship, and betrayal by someone I trusted and called a close friend.
Moments like this – unexpected and unprovoked – happen to all of us. Life changes in these situations, and inadvertently so do we.
The question becomes this:
Do you crawl into a cave and roll a boulder in front of the entrance, so no one else can hurt you? Or, do you stand straight, and allow God to show you how He would have you respond?
It would be so easy to lash out and let the whole world know our story, wouldn’t it? To tell the ugly details, and name names, so that the gossipers and those who love to listen will know our side of it all. And, it would be gratifying, easing some of the pain, if only momentarily.
I wanted so much to do these things when my friend hurt me that day. But I sought the Lord through the heartbreak, and here is what I discovered:
Do what is right.
I wanted to say mean things back to the ones who hurt me. After all, the world wants a good fight or revenge! But God’s ways are always different than the world’s ways. For me this translated, “Keep your mouth closed.”
“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.” (Romans 12:17NAS).
Remember who is our real enemy.
It seems like we are battling with people, but the truth is we are battling a different enemy. Satan wants us to be occupied with our circumstances so much that we take our eyes off of God, and off of the things for which we can be thankful. By rerouting our attention, he robs us of our joy. Ask yourself, “Did the situation, kill, steal or destroy a part of my life?” If yes, then the root of the problem is Satan.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of the darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12NAS)
Battle with weapons more powerful than words.
When the enemy is spiritual, using flesh and blood against you, we need to use spiritual weapons in response. Forgiveness is the most powerful weapon we have from Christ. Not because it will change the offender, (though it certainly could), but because it frees you and me. It frees us to seek Christ, instead of allowing our minds to ruminate over sorrow. Forgiveness weakens the power of the enemy’s weapons, giving us an advantage in the battle.
“And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Romans 4:32NAS)
Allow your behavior to reflect your heritage.
To act like our Father in heaven and show that we are His children – that we are part of a royal family. We need to obey His guidelines in good times and bad. We need to pray for those who have wronged us as an act of forgiveness. Forgiving others who have wronged us is never easy. I know! But as a child of our Father in Heaven we have the ability to forgive, because Christ has set the example for us to follow.
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45NAS)
What’s a struggle to forgive today? What might forgiveness change if you chose to extend it?
Diane W. Bailey, author of, String of Pearls (BorderStone Press, 2011) is one of our regular guest bloggers. String of Pearls shares how we can take our sorrows to Christ, and like a grain of sand in an oyster becomes a pearl, our sorrows become a testimony of Christ in our lives. Diane is married to Joseph and they share four children, two stepchildren and two birth children for each of them. They have three grandchildren who they call “Rewards for not resigning from parenthood.” A guest on numerous radio shows, she also shares her story, encouragement, and beautiful photos on her blog, Twitter and Facebook page.