Forgiveness… Even If You Don’t Love Me Anymore
by Nan Doud, Guest Writer
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Have you ever stopped to think of how incredible it was that Jesus, when He was dying, was actively forgiving people who were at that moment crucifying Him? I’m ashamed that I never seemed to realize quite how incredible this really was. Have you ever been convicted that you needed to forgive someone who wouldn’t acknowledge they had sinned or maybe even were actively sinning against you? It is the hardest kind of forgiveness to practice, so it does rather make sense that it is precisely what Jesus modeled from the cross.
In our daily lives we provide one another ample smallish opportunities for practicing forgiveness and some more serious ones as well. Perhaps we need those daily little practices so that when we need to forgive the more profound varieties of hurts inflicted upon us we are that much more prepared for the absorption of the cost.
Pretend you are a sponge. Every sin committed against you can be absorbed in one of two ways. It can be kept and held onto as a grudge or it can be absorbed and then wrung out in a process called forgiveness. A sponge that is never wrung out gets over loaded, becomes ineffective as a sponge, can’t actually be properly cleaned of contamination, and eventually will stink as the water and microbes do their putrefying thing. Only a sponge that is properly wrung out over and over while washed with pure water repeatedly will stay effective (and not stink to high heck)!
I call forgiveness a process because, especially where hurts have been profound, it can create long-term costs that must be repeatedly absorbed and wrung out over and over again. It’s not a mere one time transaction, even when the sin is acknowledged and forgiveness is sought, though that is obviously the way in which its blessings can be best experienced. While the trauma of being profoundly sinned against may or may not have been of short duration or a singular event, the painful impacts and residual effects, even when forgiveness is going on in the heart, may reverberate for many years.
Any victim of abuse that has forgiven their abuser will attest to forgiveness being a painful and costly endeavor as opposed to a one time transaction that suddenly made everything better and healed all of the broken places instantly. Think about it… if you are a sponge, allowing yourself to be wrung out over and over and over - it is not a pleasant experience. It is crushing. But the subsequent cleansing refreshes you as nothing else can and keeps you from bitterness, one of the hallmarks of forgiveness.
Until we no longer sin or are sinned against we are going to have to wrestle with the costliness of forgiveness, and as Jesus said, be ready and eager to offer it again and again… and again, just as He does for us. Lord, show us our sin that we might repent and daily know the joy of being forgiven so that we might offer it as freely as You do.
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
Do you know someone who has been a victim of abuse? Have they been able to forgive their abuser? Have you felt their pain, or understood the costly endeavor to persevere in the promise of forgiveness?
“Think about it… if you are a sponge, allowing yourself to be wrung out over and over and over it is not a pleasant experience. It is crushing. But the subsequent cleansing refreshes you as nothing else can and keeps you from bitterness, one of the hallmarks of forgiveness.”
Pray for those who live with this reality in their lives. If you know someone personally experiencing this type of pain, write a note of encouragement and send it to them, TODAY!
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to See Me, Not My Disability audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
How do you pursue your dreams when congenital muscular dystrophy threatens your independence? At fourteen years of age, Tim had a fourteen-hour surgery to straighten his spine. Tim describes how the post surgical excruciating pain led him to question God’s wisdom and love. He had to relearn to walk and cannot walk without assistance to this day. But instead of turning inward into a bitter, young man, Tim persevered through a year of pain and rehabilitation that helped him learn to walk with assistance. The recovery period gave him time to think through his goals of pursuing a life of purpose. In this transparent interview, Tim shares some of the ways he intentionally interacted with other students and school staff, as well as his own understanding of God’s purposes for his life.
Nan Doud and her husband, Shawn, currently minister alongside one another at Samaritan Ministries International as Needs Advocates. They have spent 21 years of marriage in full time Christian ministry while raising their four boys who are all teenagers now. Nan enjoys writing poetry and meditations on the intersection of life and grace as expressed in the Bible. She loves articulating and dialoguing with people on how the gospel touches both our cultural and individual struggles.
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