To Forgive or Not to Forgive That Is the Question

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Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment in which the victim is tied or nailed to a large wooden beam and left to hang for several days until eventual death from exhaustion and asphyxiation.  The Romans always beat their prisoners in a very cruel way. The law of the Jews allowed them to beat men no more than 39 times. The Roman law had no limit. When their prisoners fell down, the Romans picked them up. Then they began to beat them again. Sometimes they killed their prisoners like this. The prisoners’ backs became like a field that a farmer has ploughed. Pieces of skin hung from their backs. The Romans had decided that Jesus must die. Now they beat him, by Roman law. Jesus was publicly scourged, or beaten, with a leather-tonged whip before his crucifixion. Tiny pieces of iron and bone chips were tied to the ends of each leather thong, causing deep cuts and painful bruises. He was mocked, struck in the head with a staff and spit on. A prickly crown of thorns was placed on his head and he was stripped naked. Stake-like nails were driven through his wrists and ankles, fastening him to the cross where he was crucified between two convicted criminals.  259427-jesus-christs-crucifixion-reenated-in-czech-passion-play

What must Jesus have looked like by this time? They had beaten him with hands and whips. They had pulled his beard. They had forced the sharp crown on his head. People have painted pictures of Jesus on the cross. None of them can really show us what Jesus was like by that time.  Isaiah writes a simple vivid description of Jesus appearance.

Isaiah 52:141Just as there were many who were appalled at him-his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness

Are you formulating a mental picture in your mind yet?

th-7What was Jesus response to such cruel treatment?  This is the situation in which our Savior cried out to His father, “Father Forgive them” Luke 23:34 Jesus, as only our Savior could so perfectly do; prayed to His Father (our Father) to provide the forgiveness His death grants us.  He chose to forgive.  Holy. Completely.

Have you been hurt?  Do you struggle with memories of a painful childhood?  What trials and tribulations have you faced?  What grudges do you harbor?  Do you struggle with unforgiveness?

There are probably moments in our own lives that give us glimpses into what Christ was feeling. Betrayal.Abandonment. Unfair treatment. Unfair Judgement.  I would venture a guess that our trials pale in comparison to what Christ went through and yet Jesus chose to forgive.

  How Can We Do Any Less?

 Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” God tells us flat-out, forgive as the Lord forgave you.  God commands us to forgive.  Forgiveness is not an option that we can choose to opt out of.  Whether the sin is big or the sin is small according to our earthly measurement system, sin all looks the same to God.  Sin is sin is sin.  We are all sinners before God.  If God forgives you for your sin and Jesus forgave the Romans, Peter, and all of the rest involved in His cruel crucifixion, how then can you withhold forgiveness? I would be so bold as to say that when you withhold forgiveness that you are in effect saying you are better than God.

There is a common misconception about forgiveness.  Forgiveness does not say what the person did was ok.  Forgiveness does not mean that what has happened to you is ok, because it is not ok.  (Do not confuse forgiveness with permission to remain in an unsafe environment.  If you are in an unsafe situation please remove yourself and go to a safe place.)  But other than you have been wronged, forgiveness has nothing to do with what happened to you or who did it. th-3 Forgiveness is not about them.  Forgiveness is about you. Forgiveness is about finding freedom in letting go.  I have heard some say that unforgiveness is like walking around drinking poison hoping the other person would die.

 Are you drinking bitter poison?

 Here is the thing…. walking around spewing hatred to anyone and everyone who will listen hurts no one but yourself and it makes you look like a fool.  Why are you spending your energy and precious time focusing on your betrayal?  abandonment, unfair judgement?  It is time to take back your life.  It is time to begin living again.

It is Time to Forgive

How do I that? Especially if my heart is not in it?  It starts with a simple act of obedience of God’s command.  Being willing to think about forgiving is a start.  Pray, asking God to give you the heart forgiveness.

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Here is my challenge:

  • I challenge you to practice forgiving out loud in private. (Ex: Jane I forgive you)
    1. Be specific in what you are forgiving. (Ex: Jane, I forgive you for making me feel like I did not have any worth when you made fun of me at lunch)
    2. Remember Jesus example on the cross. He could have forgave in His head but He chose to speak forgiveness out loud.
  • Forgive yourself
    1. Whatever your trespass God has forgiven you. And if God has forgiven you what right do you have to withhold forgiveness from yourself?
    2. Breath in deeply God’s forgiveness for you.
    3. Don’t be stubborn let God heal you.
  • Forgive the memories of the past that threaten to over-take  your present. Choose life and forgive.

You will be given many opportunities to practice forgiveness.  One-time forgiveness is not enough.  Remember that forgiveness is not a one-time thing. There is no limit to the number of time you are to forgive just as there is no limit as to how many time Jesus will forgive you.th

Forgiveness will shed pounds off your life.  Forgiveness gives you permission to put down the heavy burden of bitterness and start living again.  People will see it in your face you will notice it in your spirit. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Forgive… Walk in Freedom…. Forgive

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Taken in apart: The Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce by Susanne Reeves

Learning to Walk with Jesus through the “Why”

Why is this happening to me?  WHY is this happening to me?  Why is THIS happening to me?  Why is this happening TO ME?  When painful things happen we are often left questioning “WHY?.”

Why does tragedy exist if God is a loving God? Why did this happen to me?  Why does God allow me to suffer? Why am I not able to move on from bad decisions of my past?  Why do people hurt me?  Why do I hurt people? Why am I selfish? Why are others selfish? Why do I hurt? Why?

Often this type of thinking leaves us looking for a response to questions that a human being can not completely answer.

When God created the world, He created it perfect and in His image.  When Adam and Eve sinned God was very clear as to what that would look like for mankind on earth from that point forward.

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God said to Eve:

“I will greatly increase your pains in child bearing; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

God said to Adam:

  • “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and dust you will return. “(Genesis 3:17-19)

Tragedy, pain and suffering are the result of evil (sin)

Evil/sin summarize the trauma, pain, death, crux, loss, and hurt of all of our earthly suffering and pain

God tells us that we will never be able to fully explain or understand the reason of our specific trails.

  • “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

God allows suffering in our lives to expose the fullness of His character.  His love and mercy, His compassion and concern, His forgiveness and redemption, HIS GRACE.

John 16:33  We hear Jesus’ words of encouragement and comfort.  He says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus tells us that our peace for all of the suffering and pain that this world may throw our way is found in HIM.  He also tells us point blank and straight forward, ” In this world you will have trouble.”  He did not say “may have trouble”, “with any luck you will have a trouble free life”, or based on your good actions and intentions you will have less suffering and pain.”  Jesus tells us that indeed we will have trouble, but he does not stop there.  He tells us the good news of what he has done through HIS suffering and HIS painand HIS death.  “TAKE HEART!!!!!  I have overcome the world. ”  Oh what comfort and joy those words bring to a suffering heart.  Our Jesus has conquered our earthly strife and promises us the joys of ETERNAL LIFE through HIM.

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God allows suffering to bring us to the feet of Jesus our Savior

Today I spent some time reading about Hannah.  In Samuel 1:1-18, God tells us that Hannah was married to a man who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.  Peninnah was able to have children but the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb.  Not only did the inability to have children grieve Hannah but to make maters worse Peninnah would provoke and irritate Hannah.  Can you imagine,  not only having to share your husband but to have “the other woman”  give birth to the children which you so badly desired but where unable to have? Can you imagine, having your rival make fun, taunt, ridicule, provoke, brag, and be little you to the point of dispare.  The Bible tells us that this went on for years.  YEARS!!!!  Even Hannah’s husband became concerned with Hannah.  He asked, “Hannah why are you weeping?  Why don’t you eat?  Why are you downhearted?”  Hannah was in deep dispair.  Hannah suffered from depression.  Hannah was bullied.  Hannah had to share her husband.  Hannah was unable to have the childen she so desparately desired.  Hannah grieved.  It is evident that Hannah suffered loss, pain, and sorrow.

You see even people in the Bible experienced the same types trials, tribuation, pain and suffering  that we do today.  Are you struggeling with “WHY”?

Asking “why” creates an empty cycle of frustration and often leads to dead end answers.  “WHY” is the wrong question altogether and can lead you down the path into deeper into the pit you are screaming to exit.

The focus should not be on looking at the tragedy that happened, but on how to have a healthy response to tragedy. If tragedy consumes us then two tragedies result; not only will tragedy be an event, but it will also have the power to destroy us.  Not asking “why” something has happened allows us to move through suffering and come back stronger.

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Let’s look at how Hannah moved through her pain and suffering.  God tells us that Hannah went to the temple where Eli was the priest.  God says that Hannah, “In bitterness of soul wept much and prayed to the Lord.” We are told that Hannah was praying in her heart, that her lips where moving but no sound was coming out.   Eli the priest questioned Hannah and questioned her behavior.  Hannah told Eli about her pain, anguish and sorrow, and she explained to Eli that she was praying to the Lord.  Eli listened to Hannah and blessed her as she left the temple.  We are told that Hannah left the temple and was no longer deeply troubled.

Hannah acknowldeged her grief.  She took her troubled heart to the Lord.  She knew that the Lord knew her heart even if the words escaped her. She shared her grief with someone she trusted and Hannah looked forward.  Hannah chose not to focus on the diffulties of what was, but insted focused on what was to be.  Hannah did not focus on the “why”.

Moving through suffering requires that we do not get stuck on the “why”.  Why is there pain and suffering…………because we live in a fallen world.  Jesus tells us that indeed we will have trouble, but he does not stop there. He tells us that our peace for all of the suffering and pain that this world may throw our way is found in HIM.

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My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ if you are struggling, look to your Jesus.  DO NOT GET STUCK IN “WHY”.  Take your hurt to HIM in prayer.  Find someone that you can trust, seek professional counseling, and be patient and gentle with yourself.  “TAKE HEART!!!!!  I have overcome the world. ”  Oh what comfort and joy those words bring to a suffering heart.  Our Jesus has conquered our earthly strife and promises us the joys of ETERNAL LIFE through HIM.

Blessings,

Terri

Adapted from: Becoming Resilient How to Move Through Suffering and Come Back Stronger by Donna Gibbs

 

Take the Hit

(DISCLAIMER:  This is not talking about allowing someone to physically touch you.  This is about being kind and loving even when it is hard)

A few years I had the privilege of working with a wonderful Christian Counselor.  We used to joke about how she was my Paul and I her Timothy.  I started working with Dr. Sherry Baker as her intern.  I helped to co-facilitate her weekly anger management groups. I loved each weekly meeting because I learned something new from each person I had the honor of working along side.

Anger eats you up from the inside out.  If you are a person who easliy gets angry and often takes it out on others, it is time.  It is time to begin working on loving others with as much passion and committment as you feel in your anger.

I have been thinking about the lesson on “Taking the Hit.”  It is easy to fall into the pattern of needing to be right.  It is hard to apologize to someone who is angry even if you think you are right, and really and truely mean it.  It is hard to invite others to bring to attention those moments when we are not being our “best self” and listen with a loving open heart.

Sometimes when I am not my “best self” and I am struggling with conflict I ask myself “do I want to be right” or “do I want to be happy.”  I find that things usually turn out for the better when I  lovingly “Take the Hit.”

Take the Hit

The next time anyone gets angry with you, don’t try to stop them.  Don’t walk away from them.  Don’t get angry back at them.  Don’t get combative, don’t get defensive, and don’t explain yourself.

Just stay there listening to them until they are done speaking. Take the hit.  You can take the hit.  And then apologize to them for what they are angry at you for, and say you’re going to do your very best not to do it again.  And try to mean it with your heart!

While you’re at it, tell them for future reference, that you want them to express their anger and truth to you – you can take it and that you know you sometimes need to hear it.

Tell them this even if you think it’s not true.

Even if it isn’t true, take the hit.  Take the hits no matter what.