Recently I was struggling with forgiving someone. This person hurt me deeply and continued to hurt me. I forgave a while ago, but as new incidents continued…well, bitterness took root.
I didn’t realize this until church on Sunday. During the prayer time, I knew I should pray for this person, but rather than “praying for my enemy” as Jesus calls me to do, I felt angry. Oddly, I’d been praying for him for months, years, but in that moment, just the thought of him brought so much pain, I couldn’t.
So I sat there, angry, willingly not praying for my offender. I felt justified as I ruminated in my wounds, going over the most recent incident. But slowly, gently, by His Word, God spoke to me.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. (Ro.12:14 ESV)
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt.5:44 ESV)
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. (Luke 6:27 ESV)
These verses crumbled away my wall of sin like gentle waves wash away a sand castle. Soon, tears rained down my cheeks as I cried out for forgiveness.
I listened to the end of the sermon on Eve’s sin, (my hurt and frustration distracted me from hearing the beginning), and of course, it was for me. Eve wasn’t content with the situation God had put her in. She wanted a different reality.
That’s where my anger came from, too. I didn’t want to love my enemy. It hurt too much. I didn’t think I should have to. But God calls me to obey.
He calls me to obey.
So, I must simply do it. There’s no place for anger, no decision to be made, no weighing the pros and cons. He’s God. He’s the one who makes the rules. I, like a child, wanted my own way. “You’re not the boss of me!”
It comes down to this question from the sermon: “Can His Word be trusted? Can it define who you are and what you are to be?”
What could I do but receive this word? This loving correction from my Father. Yes, Lord, yes. I hear. I trust.
Then the sermon turned to redemption. Of course it did. Those animal skins. Blood spilled to cover sin. The promise of a coming Savior. More tears…The fresh joy of knowing God forgave me for breaking His Word, for not loving my enemy, for not praying for him, blessing him.
One final image came to mind. Jesus on the cross. “Father forgive them…” The Savior Himself forgave those who sent him to the cross. Forgave me, was forgiving me right then. Ironic. He forgave me for not forgiving another.
As if this revelation wasn’t enough, the service ended with the Lord’s Supper—completing the picture of redemption. How grateful I was to taste the wine and bread, knowing that Christ’s body and blood paid for my sin, accomplished forgiveness.
And guess what? Now I can, again, pray for the person who hurt me.
How incredibly full of grace is my awesome God. He knows me, intimately, knows my sin and need for redemption. He doesn’t leave me in the dark enemy of sin’s strong grip, but like a hero, enters the blackness to rescue me.
It all follows a simple, grace-filled plan. The same one that restored Eve, restores me.
Guilt: God showed me my sin. Ignoring it wouldn’t have been loving—a good father corrects even though it may hurt the child. It did hurt! I felt horrible when I realized how I’d disobeyed, but even in the pain, I was grateful for his correction.
Grace: The conviction of sin made me cry out for mercy, run to the cross, and receive His love.
Gratitude: Because of who he is, because of his life in me, because I’m madly in love with him—and because of his forgiveness in that very moment—I want to serve him again. So I willingly pray for someone who hurt me because it honors my Lord—and that’s what I want to do. Not that it doesn’t still hurt, it does, but he promises to be with me through the hurt.
So, I went through the whole guilt-grace-gratitude cycle during a church service. My weak sinfulness assures me I’ll fail my Lord again. Yet, I can rest in the fact that though I fall—over and over—His cycle of grace will always restore what sin destroys.
How have you experienced God’s grace and redemption lately?
God bless and keep loving like there’s no tomorrow!