Sometimes wounds inflicted on us are like big waves and they can knock us right over. In fact, they can drown us if we let them. The truth is, I've had a few moments when I've felt as though I may drown. I've been hurt by people I never expected to be hurt by and I have been knocked over by a few waves I never saw coming. But one place the Lord has never allowed me to sit for too long is in the seat of self pity. He has made me get up every time and look to Him for help, healing and hope. He has always reminded me that I have also inflicted wounds, some intentional and some not. He then reminds me that when Jesus was on the cross He cried out; "Father, forgive them, for they do not what they do" (Luke 23:34 NKJV). Maybe that should be my cry as well? Would I be able to let go of the hurt more quickly if I prayed right away; "Father, forgive them, they don't know that they hurt me." What if I were to acknowledge the hurt to the Lord? "Father, I know you see that my heart is wounded within me. Help me to forgive. Help me to release the hurt to You and not hold on to a grudge. Help me to forget what was said, or done, that hurt." Henry Ward Beecher said; "I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note - torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one." I liked this quote so much that I posted it on my Facebook. Some liked it and one wanted to repost it, but someone also commented that God was the only One who could cancel, tear and burn up the note. Humans cannot because we are, after all, only human. That comment made me ponder whether we, as Christians, are able to forgive and forget in our humanness. Are we never going to be able to overcome an offense simply because we believe we are only human? Is it impossible to move on and forget the wrongs done to us, based upon how we view ourselves? We learn in Acts 10:38 that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power and with that power He did good and healed all who were oppressed, because God was with HIm. Hasn't God has anointed us with the same Holy Spirit? Yes, He has. Do I have Holy Spirit power within me to overcome? Yes, I believe I do.
Here is what I have witnessed in my own life; it is true that where the mind goes, the man follows. When I dwell upon the sins done to me by others I cannot forgive nor do I forget. When I rehash them over and over in my mind and talk about them continuously, no, I will never forget, nor will I truly forgive. When I believe that I cannot change my way of thinking or choose to not change, then the waves of offense just keep rolling over me....until bitterness within my heart is so deep and heavy, I can hardly carry the weight of it. I am so thankful to know that He never overlooks my pain in the hurt. However, He never wants me to allow it to become an idol that I worship either. In the Old Testament when the Israelites fell away from the Lord, they worshipped idols at the "High Places". An offense that I refuse to forgive can become an idol in my life when I place it higher than the Lord. Every time I dwell there I am worshipping at a "high place". I have put my faith in my plan to get even, ignore the person, or seek revenge, rather than in the One who can truly take it away.
We may want to believe that it is just too hard to let go and forgive because of this reason or that. But what might happen if we saw ourselves differently? Could we begin to see ourselves as Teilhard de Chardin described us when he said; "We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." What would change in our daily lives if we were to see ourselves not as humans, but as spiritual beings? And then if, as spiritual beings, we began to see ourselves as God sees us and walk as He has enabled us to walk? I can forgive because He says as I forgive, I also am forgiven (Matthew 6:14,15). Second Corinthians 2:16 tells me that I have been given the mind of Christ, so I can think about others and situations as He does. I can pray for those wounds and the offenders because He loves them just as much as He loves me. He died for them too. I can begin to believe the best of people, regardless of what they say or do. I can hold fast to Psalm 119:165 which says; "Those who love Your Law have great peace, and nothing will cause them to be hurt in their spirit" (NLV). I just love that. I was recently asked how I was able to forgive a very painful experience. My answer? It was only through the Power of Jesus Christ that I was able to forgive the offender and let go of the crime. Believe me, it didn't happen overnight, but once I refused to give the memory a place in my mind to dwell, I was able to overcome the enemy's trap. Here is the truth; it is very hard work to go to battle with your mind. When it wants to focus on the pain, you have to fight your thoughts! But listen to this verse; "...be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work" (2 Chronicles 15:7). That reward is freedom from the bitterness that takes over when you refuse to forgive. You may have something in your life that should never have happened to you. But reliving it every day makes you pay the price of the pain over and over again. Why not allow Christ to come in and heal you? He's waiting for you to desire Him to bring hope to your life! Here are a couple more quotes I really thought were great.
- Forgive. It doesn't erase their crime but why should you do the time. Let go of resentment. ~Dodinsky
- Forgiving is love's toughest work, and love's biggest risk. If you twist it into something it was never meant to be, it can make you a doormat or an insufferable manipulator. Forgiving seems almost unnatural. Our sense of fairness tells us people should pay for the wrong they do. But forgiving is love's power to break nature's rule. ~Lewis B. Smedes