The Struggle To Forgive

The biggest hurdle we face in life is the hurdle of forgiveness. Many carry around hurts so deep and memories so painful that the idea of letting their offender off the hook is unbearable. The idea of that person being someone loved by God, deserving of salvation is almost offensive.

We all struggle to forgive. I think part of that reason is that we think that forgiveness means letting the one who hurt us off the hook, waiving all responsibility for the pain he caused. Forgiveness does not remove consequences to wrongful action and it does not let your offender off the hook.

At its core forgiveness isn’t even about the person who hurt you, it’s about you. Forgiveness is about letting yourself move past pain, into healing. If we want to fulfill the call of God in our lives we must move past the hurts of yesterday and let Jesus heal those wounds.

Forgiveness is an act of surrender. It’s letting go of your offense and trusting the Lord take your brokenness and make you whole again. Forgiveness is letting go of your right to justice and trusting that God is a just God who is in complete control of everything.

One obstacle that causes many to be hesitant about offering forgiveness is they don’t want to ever again interact with the one who caused them such pain. They can’t imagine reconciling that relationship. We must remember that forgiveness is not the same thing as reconciliation and reconciliation is not always a requirement for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an inner work within yourself while reconciliation is an outward work between you and your offender. Sometimes God will work in you and lead you to reconciliation, other times not. I would urge you, through prayer, choose to forgive unconcerned with reconciliation. Lower your defenses and allow God work in your heart to heal your wounds.

Mark 11:24-25 (NLT) I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too

The enemy wants this generation to be bound and unable to forgive by deep wounds because this prevents the work of God from being completed in our lives. We must forgive. The call of God is too great upon this generation to remain locked in a cage of bitterness. We must learn that surrendering to God means every part of us, even our hidden wounds. When we turn them over to God. He not only heals them, but He gives them purpose.

When we begin to operate in forgiveness we realize that our past no longer holds power over us. Furthermore, we are now empowered by the Holy Spirit to bring healing to others. When the world sees someone who should be broken and bitter walking in healing and hope it is a great testimony to the power of God.

Colossians 3:12-13 (ESV) Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

We are eager to receive the forgiveness of the Lord, but it is still hard to extend that forgiveness to others. However, as we submit to the Lord, allowing Him to work in our life, it is a true sign of our transformation when we begin offering forgiveness to those who do not deserve it. Maybe they’re not even sorry. I am so grateful that Jesus didn’t wait for me to be sorry before He laid down His life and offered me the forgiveness I so gladly accepted.

Today let us seek to be like Jesus. Let us lay down our defenses in surrender to God. Let us allow His healing hand to work in our lives. It is possible to walk in forgiveness and full healing from your past. When you do, you will be amazed at how God will begin to use you for His glory.

God’s Great Plans

What’s your master plan? Most of us don’t plan what we’re gonna eat for lunch let alone what we’ll be doing 10 years for now. I believe in setting goals and making plans, but more than that I believe that God has a plan for all of us and no plan is greater or more elaborate than His plan for salvation.

Let’s look back at Jonah for a moment, he was swallowed by a giant fish! This is one of the crazier moments in the Bible, but it sure speaks to the extreme measures God is willing to go to demonstrate His love for us and help guide us down the right path. Just before this Jonah was drowning in the ocean, being tossed by stormy waves and did something he hadn’t done since he began running from God.

Jonah 2:7-9 (NLT)  As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.

 Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you. with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.” 

The storm brought him to a place of repentance and that was when God sent the fish. The fish is a sign of the sovereignty of God and His faithfulness to rescue His people.

2 Samuel 14:14 (NLT)  God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.

I am always amazed at how great the love of God is. He looks down on us in all our sins, all our brokenness and He says, “I made you, I chose you, you’re my son, you’re my daughter, I love you!” He went to great lengths to devise a plan to rescue us from our sin.

Ephesians 1:7-10 (MSG)  Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free! He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

What I love is the fact that it was God’s plan to rescue us, it was Jesus’ death and resurrection that brought us freedom. It has never been our actions that earned our salvation. It’s never been about our good deeds, but Jesus’ great deed on the cross.

God’s capacity to forgive cannot be outdone by our capacity to sin. We all have moments where we fall short and struggle with sin. Can I encourage you to not give up! God hasn’t given up on you or stopped loving you just because you blew it this week. Keep spending time in prayer and studying His word.

I absolutely believe that in Jesus we find the grace and power to be completely set free from sin, but just as importantly we find mercy patience and love enough to forgive us every time we fall short.

I am reminded of the anguish from which Paul writes in Romans 7.

Romans 7:18-25 (NLT) I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. 22 I love God’s law with all my heart.23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Struggling with sin is not a new concept, but one that has plagued humanity ever since the fall of man. When we recognize we have fallen short we should always come to the Lord and repent, He is faithful and Just to forgive us. (1 John 1:9) I love what Paul writes next.

Roman 8:1-2 (NLT) So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

We don’t have to hide our face in shame, we don’t have to run from God and we don’t have to wait until we’re drowning in the middle of a storm like Jonah to come to the Lord and repent. We don’t have to drown in guilt and condemnation. God’s capacity to forgive is greater than our capacity to sin.