A huge barrier to forgiving others is the misconception about, forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration. Many people believe that by forgiving, they will continue to live as doormats allowing sinful behavior when nothing has changed. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Forgiveness focuses on the offense. It only involves one person and has nothing to do with what the other person chooses to do. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship. It requires two people engaged in the process.
Forgiveness is the choice to release the offender. Reconciliation is the choice to rejoin the offender. It’s being brought back into a relationship where a wall of separation has been erected. Restoration is the process that makes that possible. Restoration of a relationship takes far more than forgiveness. It requires confession, repentance, and a strong commitment on both sides to work on the relationship and rebuild trust. And it often takes a much longer time.
For example, if a loved is engaged in drugs, alcohol, abuse, or some other harmful behavior, they may ask us to forgive them. Of course, God’s heart is always that we forgive, but if they ask that we go back to the way it was, the answer is a resounding NO! That’s not what we do at all. Love holds people accountable. Love protects. We do not have to allow harmful behavior that hurts us and our families. Thus, there may be extremely toxic, unhealthy people who may need to be removed from our lives.
An example is a relative who sexually molested us as a child. We can forgive them as God has called us to, but having a relationship with them may endanger ourselves and others. So forgiveness does not mean we have to have any kind of relationship with the offender ever again. Forgiveness is a choice, and it’s a willful act of obedience that blesses the heart of our Father in Heaven and sets us free.
We all go through struggles and hard times. Life is not fair. There are times of sadness, despair, and regret. The Psalmist paints a picture of someone trapped in an emotional downward spiral. Everything seems overwhelming and yet, in the end, they were able to say that there is encouragement in seeking God’s help. Why? Because God hears us.
There are two types of trauma that brings the kind of despair that we read in today’s passage. There is the trauma of “not getting what we need” , and then there is the trauma of “getting something that we should have never received.” The first is the result of neglect and abandonment, the second from abuse. But the good news is that God hears us in our despair and He can help us. Life brings each of us inescapable traumas that block maturity.
God’s redemptive activity comes to us in two ways: He brings healing to our traumas, and adopts us into His family. Both ways boost us through our blocks to maturity, along the way to wholeness, With these boosts, we will be able to live from the hearts He gave us, our true identities will emerge, and our relationships with family and community will be characterized by joy.
Today, praise God for His healing. It is there for you as you bring your pain to Him. Also, praise God for His family. It is through the fellowship and love from each other that we are made whole and can experience the joy He has for us.
“Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me.” – “Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged. For the LORD hears the cries of the needy.”
Psalms 69: 1-3, 32-33 (NLT)
Nothing hurts, and nothing heals like the truth. Facing the truth is sometimes like getting a shot from the doctor. Facing the truth sometimes brings a sting, but eventually, healing will come, and we will feel better.
The truth heals us and restores us when we place our lives in the hands of God. Without placing our life in Christ’s love and grace, the truth can only hurt us, and there are even times when the truth can maim and traumatize us. However, God has organized things in such a way as to bless us and heal us when we are with Him and when we rejoice in knowing the truth.
The truth heals and restores our soul because when we live and immerse ourselves in the truth, eventually the truth will lead us to God. We are healed and restored by the truth because the truth always leads us to a place where we find comfort and love in His presence.
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is this…God loves us beyond our ability to fully comprehend. All the hurt, trauma, and tragedy of this life can be washed away in the truth of God’s love and grace if we are willing to be His child.
This washing away of our darkness is how the truth heals and restores us. After we are washed clean by Christ’s love, we find ourselves being wrapped up in His arms. In the washing away of our lies and deceptions, we begin to see clearly our Savior who stands by us every second of our life. We also see He wants us to join Him in Heaven after our mission on earth has been completed.
God cares about our relationships and wants us to be right with one another. Too often close relationships are torn apart due to hurts, misunderstandings, offenses, pride, unresolved issues, and emotions can run deep, cut at the heart filling us with bitterness, anger, and unforgiveness.
And usually, it’s the relationships we treasure the most that breakdown and cause the deepest pain. Rather than confront the issues, it may seem easier to avoid, blame others and feel justified holding on to our hurts and anger.
Yet God calls us higher. His word says that as much as depends on us to live at peace with all people (Romans 12:18). We need to forgive those who have wounded us and ask for forgiveness when we have wounded others. We will never be free unless we learn how to forgive and release our offenders at the foot of the cross.
We need only take ownership of our wrong doings and leave the rest at God’s feet endeavoring always to extend grace and leave the door open for reconciliation whenever possible.
Are you struggling with forgiveness? Sometimes all it takes is to go to Jesus with a sincere heart and ask Him to give you a willingness to forgive, make amends and pursue peace. There is nothing that He can’t do with a willing and surrendered heart.
Why is it so important that we do not fall into the trap of thinking that we have to be perfect? Because there are no perfect people! But trouble comes when we expect ourselves and others to be perfect. Perfect people don’t have problems so we feel “pressured” to be perfect and cannot admit our problems.
When problems are not presented to God and each other, we cannot be comforted, or if in private desperation we cry out to God and see relief, we cannot share our testimony because we would have to admit to the problem in the first place. That means that we cannot comfort others! What a loss to the person needing help and the blessing for us in helping others.
We would miss the whole point of what Paul is talking about in this passage of scripture. When we can stop fighting our brokenness and instead accept it, we can surrender our need to cover the shame by trying to be perfect, earn acceptance, get validation, prove our value and worth, or check out of life in various ways so we don’t have to face our brokenness. When we do this we live in survival mode and miss out on the abundant Christian life grounded in this truth – It is in my brokenness, powerlessness, and in my weakness that my JESUS is made stronger.
Only when this truth resonates deep in our hearts are we able to identify with other’s brokenness. Let’s cry out to God and be comforted and invite others to experience the same kind of comfort we received. This is the true Christian life!
Fear and anxiety are normal emotions. As normal as fear and anxiety are, these stress-makers shred our ability to be kind, caring, and compassionate people. Fear and anxiety turn us inward towards ourselves. Satan can and will use fear and anxiety against us at every opportunity. When we experience fear and anxiety, we must take a deep breath and think about Christ and His assurance to be with us. We must remember to relax and place these negative emotions in a proper perspective.
Fear is the negative emotion generated by a tangible threat. Anxiety is the negative emotion generated by an intangible threat. Fear is the result of something real. Anxiety is the result of something imagined. Anxiety causes an unsettledness within, often people can’t identify what they are anxious about. Worry is different, the object of their worry is identifiable.
When we are worried, fearful and anxious, we must remember to pray. Obviously, fear and anxiety take away your prayerful moods. However, God cares about your coming to Him in prayer, regardless of your emotions or your circumstances. Pray God’s word over every fear, worry or anxious thought. By doing so, we are promised in Philippians 4:6-7 that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.
Always remember that negative emotions are rooted in negative thinking. Emotions will not change unless we change our thinking. Scripture backs this up beautifully, “Anxiety in the heart of a man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25).
Saturate yourself in the Truth of God’s Holy Word. Meditate on the rich promises that are part of your inheritance as a beloved precious child of the living God! No matter how your feel right now choose to embrace the truth, strength and wisdom and peace of God by changing your spiritual focus from darkness to light. Let the One who counts every hair on your head comfort and fill you with hope for the future. His perfect love casts away all fear. Set your fearful thoughts on Jesus. He is the greatest mood stabilizer of all.
Shame has no room in the life of a believer. Jesus has covered our guilt and shame. Our past does not define us. The sins that hurt us whether ours or someone else’s perpetrated against are not who we are.
They kept us from becoming who God creates us to be causing us to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms and put up walls around our hearts to guard against being hurt. They kept everyone else out including God.
Addiction, sexual sin, bodily abuse, eating disorders, trauma, neglect, violence cannot be erased from our minds, but we can be free from their damaging effects on our souls.
God sets us free by helping us walk through and process the pain, removing the lies we have believed about ourselves, and offering and receiving forgiveness. This releases us from the bondage of being a byproduct of our past. Through the Sacrifice of our beloved Savior and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, we are set free.
We can replant and be rooted in God’s love and grace, but we must let go of the toxic things that keep us from living in freedom, growing and becoming who God created us to be
A deep wound, a broken heart, disappointments, bitterness, and unforgiveness, can cause the heart to become hardened with time. It causes us to put up walls. Our defenses go up. We self-protect, and we don’t let anyone in including God.
Self-protection leaves us running on reserve and is the cause of intimacy issues and conflict in relationships. It seems that it’s easier to be hard than soft and vulnerable because we don’t want to get hurt. But you were not created to live that way. God made you to be tender and responsive. It’s hard to shape stone.
As long as your heart remains hard you will miss out on the abundant life Jesus came to give. So let the living God come into your heart, heal your wounds and tear down your self-protection and defenses.
The amplified version of Ezekiel 11:16 says “And I will give them one heart, a new heart, and I will put a new Spirit within them, and I will take the stony, unnatural hardened heart out and give them a heart of flesh, sensitive and responsive to the touch of their God.”
Give your hurts to the Lord. Let God shape you. When you do that…He will leave His fingerprints all over your heart.
Are you struggling today? The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is inside us. He is our helper, our teacher, our counselor, our friend. We need to know His power. His resurrection power! His redeeming power! Life breathing power! His healing power! He has the power to change lives and restore hearts.
Knowing the power and authority we have in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit can break any stronghold, sever anything that holds us captive and in bondage. It can snap the chains of the enemy; lift any barrier hindering our ability to run the race with endurance.
He is the power source that enables us to persevere and overcome any negative experience that has ever happened to us and be healed and set free. Never underestimate the power we have in the Holy Spirit. God’s word declares in 1 John 4:4 that greater is He who is in your than He who is in the world. We are never alone.
The Holy Spirit is always there and will empower us to face, push through and remove anything that harms us, tries to separate us from God and stunt our Christian walk and spiritual growth.