We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive. -T. D. Jakes
My husband and I spent a Sunday afternoon going to watch The Shack. We read the book years ago, but we were quickly reminded of the deep meaning of this story. Forgiveness. God is the only one who can pass judgement, so in order to find joy in our life we can not sit in the judgement seat but must forgive those who sin against us. The Bible is the story of redemption and forgiveness that God has for his chosen people.
How many times have I sat in God’s judgement seat of others? Probably more than I care to admit, but it is so easy to want our own revenge and justice for our lives and the wrongs committed against us. The difficult part of God’s plan is not accepting his forgiveness but giving that forgiveness to others. Releasing the burden of carrying the anger and pain from others and forgiving that sin is a gift from God to allows us to build our relationship with Christ. Christ is our path to the Lord, but we must travel the road of forgiveness. The disciples in their teachings remind us all in Acts 13:38 that we must know Christ, “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you,” Christ teaches us that if we do not forgive then he will not forgive as the Lord’s Prayer reminds us. Matthew 6:9-12
9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
As we pray scripture in Mark 11:25 says, “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Forgiveness allows our relationship with God to be stronger because we allow him to sit in the judgement seat.
As we left the movie, I have to admit my mind was everywhere thinking about the impact the movie was having on not just me but Derwin. Derwin and I sat in silence for awhile on the car ride back before talking about the impact the movie was having on us. Tears filled our eyes as were realized that we have to give so much to God. We have to allow him to carry so much of our hurt and pain, so that we can move forward. We have to trust in his love for his children. He will provide good and glory in his own timing.
Evil is a part of this world as the movie so tragically depicts. Everyone including Christians will be touched by evil as they walk through this life on earth. Scripture in Proverbs 28:5 reads, “Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand it completely.” I am reminded to turn to scripture to understand the evil in the world and how to forgive the evil when it finds me or my family. Sometimes evil creates a feeling of unfairness in this world, but I must remember that my desire is not for this world but that which my heavenly Father has prepared for me.
Our pain does not match the fictional pain of the movie or the pain that so many others Christians face each day in their walk. I pray for their strength to let go and walk in God’s plan. I know that so many face deep struggles but choose to walk in God’s joy as an example to us all. I pray that God will provide forgiveness in my life so that I too can be example of the joy even as you walk through the valley. I was reminded of a story recently shared with me by a friend when I was breaking down and sharing my anger and judgement over someone who had hurt me. She told me how she walked this path and prayed for her ability to forgive this person who had hurt her. She realized one day when she ran into this person in public that she had forgiven her because she did not feel the anger and pain of the past any longer. I cling to her story and pray for that in my own life. I am reminded in Galatians 6:7-8: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.” Forgiveness is sowing to the Spirit and all Christians strive toward eternal life as their reward.
Forgiveness is hard but I read somewhere that it is like a muscle we must exercise. Forgiveness is not just one and done. It is like my friend described that you work at it and one day you will find that you have framed the pain differently through forgiveness. I know that it is impossible for humans to forget, but by flexing our muscle of forgiveness we can change the pain to joy by giving it to the Lord to carry. Matthew 11:30, ” For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” These words are reminders that God has not given us more than we can bear and he will carry the burden. As I walk through this difficult time of forgiveness I know that God walks with me, Psalm 138:7 comforts me, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.” God knows my enemies and their hearts and I must trust in my walk and relationship with him, and flex my muscle of forgiveness, and continue to walk in the truths of scripture like Romans 8:28 which comforts me often, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose.”
My final thoughts come from a verse that I feel is a deep reminder of how I need to be in constant prayer to release the anger of my sins. The words of Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” drops me to my knees to pray and forgive others who have sinned against me before the sun goes down.
Closing Verse: Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”
Challenge: May the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer challenge you as you forgive those in your life who have sinned against you.
“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive. Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts…”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison