Yesterday I had phone call that left me having a complete meltdown. I’m a person who is prone to anxiety & depression but having hormones & lack of sleep due to a 3 month old has made me extremely sensitive these days. A situation that I would normally find just a little stressful has completely broken me. I reached out to friends & found comfort and thanked God for the blessing of them in my life. But the wellspring of sorrow in my heart could not be quenched so I cried out to God for help. He promises in James 4:8 that if we will draw close to Him, that He will draw close to us. My favorite verse is Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted & saves those who are crushed in spirit”. It was a hail mary prayer last night sent up to heaven asking for help.
And when I opened my email this morning this devotional (click here) from Proverbs 31 ministries was waiting. It’s actually from 2 days ago but I just read it today & I know that was God’s hand. “Be still” & “Do not Worry” leaped off the pages & spoke to my heart. Later in the day my husband called to check on me. He’s a smart man & has learned the signs of when I need a helping hand & a whole lot of love… praise God for blessing me with that man! I poured out my heart to him choking back the tears & as I hung up I knew that it wasn’t my friends or even my husband that I needed it was God. So as the baby slept I opened my bible & verse after verse began to come to my mind & I began to google where to find them & read them. The 1st was Romans 12:18 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men”. Then Matthew 6:14-15: “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. BUT if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will NOT forgive your sins”. I don’t know about you but that really struck me. If I don’t forgive someone God will not forgive me & boy do I need his forgiveness every single day. “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”-Mark 11:25. Again he was telling me that if I expected Him to hear my prayers & forgive me of my own sins I FIRST had to forgive the other person. That’s when I understood how important forgiveness is to God.
I’m not good at forgiveness, in fact it’s something I’ve always struggled with. But over the years, through a lot of trial & error, I’ve learned how to forgive more quickly. I’m certainly not perfect at it & it continues to be my toughest struggle but I’ve come a long way. I use to hold on to unforgivness because I didn’t think the other person deserved it, but God began to reveal to me that forgiveness is more important for me than the other person. Holding on to that bitterness didn’t hurt the other person, it was hurting me. I would think about them & my hurt/anger constantly, it would replay in my mind, & when I saw that person only hatred would come out. It wasn’t until I started to forgive others that I found release & finally peace within myself. That is why God calls us to forgive, he wants the best for us & he wants us to have peace. Forgiveness is not about whether the other person deserves it.
In Matthew 18:21-35 Jesus tells a story about an unforgiving person. Peter (who I just love because I think he has my perfectionist type A personality) asks Jesus how many times he should forgive someone. In response he tells him this story about a man who owed a huge debt to the king & the king forgave his debt & told him he didn’t have to pay. The man then leaves & goes to a man who owes him a very small debt but when that man couldn’t pay he threw him into jail. The king hears about what he had done & says “you evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you? Then the angry king sent the man to prison until he had paid every penny.” Then Jesus says “that’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers & sisters in your heart.” In this story God is the king & we are the servant. If we don’t forgive others we provoke God’s anger against us. In his great mercy God forgives us & expect us to show the same mercy & compassion towards others. Even in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus leads us by example as he prays “Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” The famous author CS. Lewis put it like this “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you”.
As I said, I’m not perfect & this is a daily struggle for me. Instead of being angry & not forgiving those in my life that are causing me stress, I’m choosing love & joy. The last two days the song “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice” has come to mind. This is a Sunday school song I haven’t heard in years but I believe God placed it on my heart. As I was studying these scriptures I found myself singing it again & decided to look up this verse. It says “Always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again- Rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember the Lord is coming soon”- Phil 4:4-5. Praise God that He is coming soon to wipe away our tears, to forgive us of our sins, & take away the cares of this world. I look forward to that day with eager anticipation! Do you? Or are you afraid of what He might say to you if He was to return today? Is there someone in your life that you are holding a grudge against who needs your forgiveness?
I hope these versus will speak to you today & bring you the hope & encouragement that only forgiveness through Christ can bring.