Last week in my personal bible study time, I read about obedience and forgiveness. It was good, and obviously, there is always room to learn about both of those potentially weighty topics. I felt my heart drawn to the passages on obedience more so than that of forgiveness. It’s funny the difference a week can make.
I’ve been exchanging emails with someone who is a struggle for me. It’s not a daily struggle, but things come up and I am hit with a situation or two and it brings back feelings that I know are not good. Overall, I’ve just decided to live my life and let God deal with injustice and the wrongs I may have suffered, but there are times when I am tested. And it doesn’t even take much – a simple comment, email or conversation from them and I find my heart racing, anger rises and that feeling that I have somehow been marginalized once again.
Today I was confronted with my choice to forgive or be bitter. Initially I wanted to be bitter, I really did. I was so angered by an email that really wasn’t that bad, but with tears welling up in my eyes I felt myself battling not just irritation but a deep resentment. I sat there and prayed, talked it through with a friend or two and then came home and sat down to pour over scriptures hoping they would speak to my heart. I know one thing for certain; I do not want to be full of hatred. Sin will lead to my destruction and there is no reward in a heart full of anger or bitterness. That has been a belief I’ve repeated over and over to myself and I’ve continued to cling to it. I’m not where I need to be yet, but these are the scriptures that are helping me today:
14Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
25And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins."[a]
1 [a]I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonders.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 My enemies turn back;
they stumble and perish before you.
4 For you have upheld my right and my cause;
you have sat on your throne, judging righteously.
Read this great quote by Carole E. Smith of the Atlanta Counseling Center:
“We cannot know God fully until we know who we are and what has formed us. We do not go to God despite the sin perpetrated upon us. We go to God because of it, and we must take it to God held in both hands, known by heart and seen with both eyes. That is when we can hand it over. That is when we can forgive our abusers.”
Forgiveness is a process – one decision after another to be righteous. For me, today’s decision is for forgiveness and trust that my Father is my best, holy and only true advocate. He expects and desires me to give this heartache over to him. As he has forgiven me, I have to make that same decision to be gracious at times. And so tonight….a long walk, a heart lifted in prayer and a willingness to stay out there until I can be at peace with it all.