If we feel like we're entitled to our unforgiveness, then, not will we need recover from our pain, but we will continue to spread that pain onto others. I'm sure you've heard that saying, "hurt people hurt people." And it's true.
My dad has gone through a pretty terrible childhood. He was abandoned, he was abused. There were quite a number of people who were purposefully cruel to him. It wasn't until I was a child that my father came to know the Lord. Prior to that, he was dealing with a lot of pain from his past. Because he didn't have Jesus in his heart, he didn't know what to do with all this pain. Remember, like I said, hurt people will hurt other people. So there was definitely a trickle effect where I felt like I was pained because of what he had gone through.
I developed a bitter hatred toward these people. If they hadn't hurt my dad, my dad would have been a lot more okay for me growing up as a child. When my father came to know the Lord, my dad was able to forgive. I watched my dad, curiously, as he was able to release his pain, release hatred, and not only forgive these people, but receive them, and love on them and share his resources with them. He opened his home to them and whatever he had, he was so happy to love on them and he was excited to bring them into his life. I watched him be able to come to the Lord with a clear conscience despite what they had done to him.
I didn't understand why he was able to forgive them. I chose to continue hating them. Their sins affected me. Their sins hurt me. And so I was going to hold onto my hatred because I felt like it was my right to do so. The Lord pointed out to me that my dad's ability to forgive freed him from reliving the pain. The Lord pointed out to me that my dad had more of a right to retain more of a grudge against them than I did. But if my dad was able to forgive them, so should I. Matthew 6, "for if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
The Lord doesn't desire for us to have wrath and bitterness, and pain in us. He wants us to forgive. He wants us to be able to be a great witness. As children of God, we're supposed to reflect Him. The Lord is gracious and forgiving. My dad was a great example of that. He trusted in the Lord, he let Jesus heal him. He let Jesus strengthen him with a strength that my dad didn't have. Forgiveness is an incredibly hard thing to do. It goes against what the world says in that, "this is your right to be angry. This is your right to be hurt." But that's only going to put us in bondage. That's only going to make the pain ferment and continue to hurt us.
I love Ephesians chapter four verses 31-32, "get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you." And like He says in Isaiah chapter one, verse 18, "'come now, let us settle the matter,' says the Lord, 'though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they shall be like wool.'" For Him to say that to me after the horrible things that I've said and done and thought; it takes a HUGE burden off of me. This is why it's important that we forgive - not just the person who has committed a transgression against us, but simply because that's what the Lord wants from us.
Look at my dad's choice...he now has this group of people who love him and are so astonished over the peace that he has in being able to let go. That is making great strides for God's kingdom.
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