It is 5:00am. For hours I have tossed and turned, searching for relief from my pain. I find none.
I detest, I loathe my body. This is strong language, yet it is the secret that I carry of abhorring my very being. Fighting bitterness over disappointment and despair of a body turned against me. It rebels. I have little control. What hope is there? What reason to push on and fight for another day?
At 5am (as I wait for dawn after a painfully slow night) it is difficult to see any. Yet I must go on. I must fight. I must wage war against my flesh. I refuse to let me body win. I refuse to be captive to it. I refuse to let it suck all the joy from my life.
Dualism. I am more than simply a physical being. I have a soul that can never die. While my body languishes away, my soul can be filled aplenty as it gorges on God’s grace and faithfulness.
“Bitterness is drinking poison while waiting for the other person to die.”
Bitterness gnaws away at my soul. It is an unseen disease, yet it is as putrid as a flesh-eating disease (look up pictures of this – its truly horrific). If I let it, bitterness will insidiously consume me.
This is a bleak future for those who have been hurt. Yet God offers us another option.
It seems impossible. And truthfully and simply, it is.
Forgiveness is completely antithetical to our human nature – we fight, we war against it. It is only through Christ that we can forgive. And Christ is the model for forgiveness. He was the one who taught us to pray, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). Isaiah tells us that God makes a conscious decision to not remember our sins. We must do the same. Day by day, and some times minute by minute, we must choose forgiveness.
The first step may be to simply admit your bitterness. The word “confession” means to “agree with God” and often we simply need to view our sin through Christ’s eyes and call it what it is. Each time hurt wells inside of you (and believe me, it will) purpose to meditate on Scripture. Later, as you are able, begin to pray for those who have hurt you.
Forgiveness is not necessarily letting that person “off the hook”. It is not denying the pain that they have caused you. Forgiveness is trusting that God will deal justly with that person. Take your pain and your hurt to God – He is big enough to handle your pain (and goodness knows “stuffing” pain doesn’t do any good) and He desires to bring healing to your life “that you have have life and have it abundantly”.
I am praying that you (whoever YOU are) will be able to take the first step on the journey of forgiveness. It is a journey toward freedom and toward life.
“We never look more like Christ than when we forgive” (Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word)
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was you.” (Lewis B. Smedes)
Just a quick thought to share today. As I’ve been reading Dr. Luke’s account of the Gospel I was challenged by the life of Jesus (no surprise there). Jesus is frequently seen withdrawing from the crowd and even his disciples. I’ve often heard these passages used to remind people that its okay to take times away from public ministry and away from people. Here are some additional thoughts on the matter.
First of all, Jesus withdrew for a set reason: to pray. This prompted me to ask myself honestly if I used my time alone wisely. Am I actively spending time in prayer, in the Word and journaling? Am I using my time alone intentionally? Because if I am simply wasting time, frittering it away on Facebook or Youtube, I am not going to be ready to serve those around me. By no means am I saying that it is wrong to spend time on Facebook or watching a movie, but (speaking for myself here) if the majority of my precious time alone is spent on those things, I will be less prepared and less happy to spend time with people. Sometimes an hour is wasted on something frivolous that could have been spent preparing my heart.
Secondly, when Jesus was with people He was fully, completely, 100% with the people. He observed so much, he perceived their thoughts, he noticed those on the fringes of the crowd (like when he saw Zacchaeus in the tree). I think he was able to do this, in part, because He was careful and intentional with his time alone. When your time alone is not being used well, it can be easy to resent being around people or having them stop by.
This year I want to be intentional with people and also with my times of solitude.