Forgiving, even under hardships

It is easy to forgive someone for small trespasses, however, when it comes to the big, emotionally scaring situations in our lives we tend to turn a blind eye. We walk away from the people and cut off others. For many situations this may be needed, especially in abusive relationships, however, we must always be able to forgive those who persecute us. The Bible teaches us that being able to forgive others allows us to keep our hearts pure and worthy of our offerings to the Lord. This is why Jesus taught that a believer must leave their offering to the Lord until they reconcile and forgive those who have wronged us (Matthew 5:24). This is not something simple to do though but it must be done to purify our hearts and our minds.

During my short lifetime, I have had to forgive those who hurt not only me but my family. I grew up in a very abusive household. My mother was emotionally abusive to my sisters and me, and my father was an abuser. One of my sisters and I were almost miscarried because of the beatings my father gave my mother while pregnant. Then, my mother took her hurt and anger out on us after she left my father. Hate and unforgiveness was bread into me and my sisters and it has truly scared us for many years. To this day we still carry our scars from our battles. These scars kept me from being a good husband, father, and Christian for many years.

Then, an amazing woman (my wife Amy) told me that until I completely forgive those who have hurt me I cannot fully grow. I would stay stagnant in all my relationships because the room in my heart and mind that held on to my anger and hurt has made me have a lot of defense mechanisms that keep me for having an honest relationship with others. I learned then that I had to leave my issues at the foot of the cross, however, to be honest, it has taken many years and at times I still struggle with things because of my past. Then, as I was reading my daily devotional I was reminded of the truth that we cannot have room in our heart and mind for negative emotions and for the fruits of the Spirit. There cannot be in light and darkness at the same time, we must choose either to be filled with love, mercy, and grace or not.

A perfect example of this is found in Acts 7:59-60. Stephen was being stoned to death for being a believer. He was tied up and was being struck repeatedly by large rocks because he was a Christian. Out of anyone in this world, Stephen could have yelled and cursed at these people because he did nothing wrong. Then falling on his knees [in worship], he cried out loudly, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them [do not charge them],” (Acts 7:60, AMP). If this man of God could forgive and pray for his enemies while being stoned to death, what is holding us back from forgiving someone who trespassed against us today?

This piece of Scripture reminded me about the years of anger and unforgiveness that kept me from being happy. My parents continued to live their lives as nothing happened but it was me that lived unhappily. I gave power to my anger, anxiety, and my unforgiving heart instead of giving power to the Lord in these areas of my life. For this reason, I am writing this short message for you all. Give power to God instead of the things that hold you back from giving yourself fully to Him. It has taken me many years to understand this simple lesson from Jesus and all those Christians that lived and died before my time, however, maybe my history can help you change your future. Choose to forgive and leave your sadness, anger, and hurt at the cross where it belongs. Then, allow the Holy Spirit to lift you up and fill those voids with Christ’s love, mercy, and grace. This is why it is so important to forgive others, especially during our most trailing times.

Father, we come to you together bent down on our knees. I pray that you give us the courage and strength to forgive and pray for those who persecute us and who have hurt us in the past. Father, I pray that you take their power over our lives away from us and allow us to leave these burdens at the foot of the cross where they belong. Father, sanctify us and exchange our hurts for the joy and happiness that can only come through your Spirit. For this exchange and many more blessings that we cannot see in our daily walk with you, I say thank you and in your Son’s name, we pray, Amen!

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