Love Like Jesus: Forgiving The Unforgivable
In the last post we talked about forgiveness and how forgiving others isn't for them it's for us. When we hold bitterness, anger, resentment or other negative emotions in our hearts towards another person, we are not only hurting ourselves, but we are blocking the peace that God has for us. Holding onto to those emotions robs us of joy, peace and happiness and contentment . Often times the person we are being unforgiving to is going about their daily lives and either unaware or not caring about what we think of them. So you see holding onto an unforgiving spirit is only hurting ourselves, not the other person. That's why forgiveness isn't for them it's for you.
Today I want to talk about forgiving the unforgivable. I know there are many of you who are hurting and broken over a situation where someone has harmed your or some you love or hurt you or them in unimaginable ways. Maybe you've been sexually, physically or mentally abused. Maybe someone you love was killed at the hands of another. Maybe you've been rejected and abandoned by people who are supposed to love and care about you. Maybe you can't forgive yourself for something horrible that you have done that has brought pain or harm to someone else. Whatever your circumstances are, I promise there is peace in forgiveness.
Forgiving my dad for all the pain and hurt he had cause me and my family wasn't easy. I was carrying so much resentment in my heart. I didn't want to forgive him because I convinced myself he didn't deserve it. But the truth is, it didn't matter what I thought. God forgives anyone who asks for it and if he can do that, the bible tells us that we should too. Now I know many of you are saying, "But Denise, the ones who have hurt me have done unforgivable things! I can't forgive them for that." I know exactly how you feel.
When my daughter was still living at home with me, we walked through many years of pain and turmoil because people who were supposed to love and care about her mistreated her horribly. As a mom it was incredibly heart-wrenching to have to watch her have to endure the things she went through. While I was doing everything I could to help her and protect her, in many ways my hands were tied and there was only so much I could do. Over the years, bitterness, anger and resentment began to take root in my heart towards these people. I literally despised them. They seemed to have so much clout and control over the situation and I was struggling to keep me and my daughter afloat amidst all the pain and suffering.
My mental health suffered a lot during those years as I battled with anger issues, anxiety issues and depression. I was focusing my time and energy in the wrong places. I was spending too much time on the things I couldn't change instead of the things I could change. And I wasn't allowing God to fight my battles for me. Fortunately for me, I had a Godly Christian mom who always had my back and supported me in love and prayer. When my daughter was about nine years old, we were scheduled to go to the biggest court hearing we ever had. To say that my daughter and I were scared is an understatement. We would have to be in front courtroom full of people and talk about things we didn't want to talk about.
The day before we were to appear in court, mom and I had a prayer meeting. She was and still is my biggest prayer warrior. She was so good at searching her bible and finding just the right verses for almost any given situation. This time was no different. She said, "Denise I have searched my bible a hundred times over and prayed that God would give us a scripture for tomorrow and he did!" The verses she proceeded to quote to me was 2 Chronicles 20:15-17, "And he said, “Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. They will surely come up by the Ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the [a]brook before the Wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”
And boy those verses couldn't have been more accurate. We did in fact go to court, and while the ruling did not end in our favor, we still celebrated the fact that the Lord showed up in mighty ways. We were able to stand still in the midst of our enemies with grace and dignity while God fought the battle. Now maybe you are wondering how I can say God fought the battle even though the case didn't end in our favor. Well, that's a story for another day, but I will say this, God doesn't always allow us to see a miracle every time he fights our battles. Sometimes he allows us to see victories in other ways even if the battle at hand doesn't end in our favor. But let's get back to the topic of this post, forgiving the unforgivable.
Without divulging any private details of our situation, the people who we were battling against had done horrible, unforgiveable things to my daughter and our family. And like so many of you, I also questioned God about why I should forgive these people. After all they certainly didn't deserve it in the my eyes or my daughter's eyes and probably not most people's eyes. But the truth is while me and everyone else thought they they deserved to rot in hell for all of our pain and suffering. God didn't see it that way. He died on the cross for their sins and rose again so that they could have eternal life if they chose too, just like he did for me and my family. God doesn't require us to jump through hoops or do extravagant things to be forgiven. He simply says, "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believeth in him shall have eternal life." John 3:16.
The bible doesn't have a special set of verses on forgiveness based on the severity of another person's wrong doing, because sin is sin and all sin can be forgiven by the blood of Jesus. So, why should you forgive those who are unforgivable? Because forgiveness is giving up your right to hurt because someone else hurt you and allowing Jesus to fill that void of pain and suffering with joy and peace. Jesus paid the price for their sins on the cross, so you don't have to carry the burden of someone else's sins around with you for the rest of your life. You may be asking, "That's all fine and dandy Denise, but I still can't bring myself to forgive them!" I understand. Believe me I do. I wish I could say that my forgiveness for them hurting me and my daughter came quickly, but it didn't. It took YEARS before I could finally let God bring me to a place where I could forgive. And it took my daughter a few years after that before she could forgive them as well.
If you are still struggling to forgive someone who has deeply hurt you, start by praying and asking God to help you be able to forgive. You may not see any change in how you feel right away. It may take a long time, but don't give up and keep praying everyday and asking God to help you be able to forgive. With time you will begin to notice a change in your heart. My momma always said you can't pray for someone and hold a grudge against them at the same time. She was so right! Remember, forgiveness isn't for them it's for you so you don't have to carry the weight of someone else's sins around with you for the rest of your life. That is so liberating and freeing! I don't know about you but I have enough trouble in this world working through my own sins. I am so glad I don't have to bear the burden of someone else's too!