It was a very ironic (but not really) day yesterday. I was coming fresh off of SUCH a high from my birthday the day before. My husband made sure that my birthday was EXTRA special this year and he did an amazing job (more on that later). But around noon, my day took a turn for the worst. I got some VERY BAD NEWS from my friend Amy. The irony (or lack thereof) was that I had actually sat down to record a video that I had been asked to do explaining what Amy and DW meant to me and my family. I couldn't wait to ramble on and on about how awesome they are, how much we love them, how much they mean to our family, what a big part of our spiritual growth they've been... And as I am setting up my new laptop (birthday present) to record it, I get a text from my friend Anne. I hurried to Amy's blog to read the devastating news. The anger I felt over the "loss" and unreality of everything was actually overshadowed by Amy's resilience and grace. The forgiveness that she extended before even having her answer was amazing. She is a shining example of God's love.
I immediately sent Amy and email and then I sat down to do my Bible Study (A Woman Who Reflects the Heart of Jesus: 30 Days to Christlike Character by Elizabeth George) that I am doing and you will never guess what I was to study that day... "Faithful, Focused, Forgiving". My heart skipped a beat. I have to admit when I first read Amy's post, I didn't immediately feel forgiveness, I felt anger/hurt. But after thinking about it for a while and doing this study, I too felt forgiveness. But I still feel so much hurt for Amy. And I think that's ok. I don't apologize for feeling HURT because my friend is grieving a loss.
After doing the study and digging deep into what forgiveness really means for us Christians... I HAD to share some of the things that I took away from the chapter on forgiveness. If definitely changed the way I think!
"I forgive you." Three words. Three words that are somewhat easy words to say. Three words that are extremely hard to mean and live.
You know what normal is, don't you? It's the response we instinctively leap to when we're hurt. Whether our injury is emotional or physical, we move into retaliation mode. Normal thinks, you hurt me, so I'm gonna hurt you. This kind of response is the natural, normal pattern of the world. It's no secret that forgiveness is not the normal or human response. We are to give the supernatural response.
If the person who hurts you or devastates your life never repents...or acknowledges the pain caused to you... or never asks you for forgiveness...or never even says "I'm sorry," you are still willing to extend forgiveness. Forgiving that person will free you of a heavy burden of bitterness!
Forgiveness isn't about THEM, it's about YOU. And your connection with God.
Our Savior's plea, issued to us all those centuries ago, was to imitate His heart of forgiveness. As He pointed out, our love and forgiveness would be-and is- a sign to the watching world that we march to the beat of a different drum. We follow the Lord Christ, not our emotions, or what we see or read, or what we witness all around us or are told to do. When we love and forgive others as Jesus did, we shout to the world that we are God's children. Truly, forgiveness is a mark of Christian love.
Forgiving other's is not an option. It's not up for debate. A Christian's forgiveness is based on realizing he has been forgiven.
Jesus never asks anything of us He did not do Himself. He asks us to forgive. He expects us to forgive. He enables us with the power and ability to forgive. By His all-sufficient grace, you CAN forgive!
Prayer on Forgiveness:
Lord Jesus, thank You for forgiving my sin, and help me in turn to forgive others. Search my heart for situations in which I'm not fully forgiving a wrong inflicted upon me. Whenever I recall the injury, pain, or memory of that hurt, let the beauty of Your forgiveness wash over me. Give me the love to forgive seventy times seven. Amen.
I would encourage you all to get this book, study and reflect on it. It's very eye opening about the heart of Jesus and the love He has for us all.
Have a great weekend!