Forgiveness opens the heart to love again and frees the soul to be filled with enduring hope. It heals, reconciles, transforms hearts and restores broken dreams. Forgiveness comes from the very heart of God.
Anyone who has read this blog know that last year a nurse overdosed me causing a heart attack and brain injury. It was traumatic and life changing. During the past year, as I have struggled to recover, I have wanted to forgive however the process of forgiving has been a lot harder than I thought it would be.
Just last week as I penned my resignation letter, (all my doctors say I am unable to go back to work at this time) I wrestled deeply with feelings of injustice and sadness over my circumstances. I wept as I wrote each word. I felt so inexplicably sad that the actions of just a few people changed my life in such profound ways.
As I finished writing, I spoke with the Lord about this current trial and many others He has walked me through. I told Him I needed His help to settle my heart and open it to forgive again. Events of just a few years ago came to mind and quickly paralleled with my current need to forgive. God’s perspective, I am learning, is so much better than my own.
For several months nearing the end of 2009, I struggled with low-grade fevers and diffuse abdominal pain. I didn’t feel well, but was still able to work and be the mom and wife I wanted to be. On December 7th that suddenly changed when I was admitted urgently to the hospital with a high fever and mounting evidence that something was terribly wrong.
For a couple of days I laid in the hospital very sick, but with the help of antibiotics, I was holding my own. On the 9th however, things became dramatically worse. The surgeon monitoring my condition performed emergency surgery where he found a ruptured abscess (about the size of my fist) and infection throughout my abdomen. After repairing the abscess area, he washed and rewashed my abdomen ensuring all the infection was finally gone. My life was saved and the relief we felt was beyond words.
Post surgery, it became clear that while the most critical issue (the abscess) had been fixed, some underlying issues remained festering under the surface. Low grade fevers began to come and go and pain in my lower left side became constant again. In June of 2010 two surgeons performed a drastic surgery where they removed part of my colon, scar tissue and performed a hysterectomy. OUCH!
It wasn’t until all of that was done that they found the hidden issue causing my problems. A small strangulated hernia was leaking its contents into my abdominal cavity, (ewww) literally poisoning me. Something so small – yet so dangerous – almost took my life. As I pondered my current situation with the Lord, I believe He used the experience of my surgeries to demonstrate what unforgiveness can do to my emotional heart.
Pain caused by hurt, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, failures, and out right sin can cause figurative emotional abscesses that hurt every bit as much as physical ones. My first response to pain like that is to withdraw and never touch that area again. The only problem is, by doing that, I don’t leave the door open for the Great Physician to come and heal the hurt. I instead choose to let it fester.
When small areas in my heart are bound by unforgiveness, bitterness and anger leak to the very core of my soul making me very emotionally sick. Without the proper care and cleaning process, (forgiveness and grace) those emotional abscesses grow and bring a spiritual death of sorts that I believe is almost worse than a physical one. A spiritual death – where joy and hope cannot be sustained. This tyoe of death is so painfully evident in me when I choose not to forgive. In a blink of an eye my heart becomes cold, mean and full of spite.
The good news is God in Heaven does not want us to be walking wounded. He desires peace to fill our hearts, hope to endure and forgiveness to be a gateway to growing freedom for our weary souls.
Consider with me just a few verses.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. ” Ephesians 4:31-32
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9
The scriptures above are only a small sampling of many verses that talk about forgiveness. The Bible is filled with them. The truth is, forgiveness is found right at the very heart of the Lord – it comes hand and hand with His love. We see this so clearly when Jesus cried out, “Father forgive them…” on our behalf as he hung dying on the cross for us. (Luke 23:34). Yes, let there be no mistake, forgiveness is unbelievably important to the Lord and it needs to be equally important to those who follow Him.
Points to ponder —
Forgiveness begins with a choice.
Forgiveness is not always easy.
Forgiveness takes time, intention and committment.
Learning to walk the road of forgiveness may not be the easiest road to choose but it certainly is the most rewarding!
Some of the fruits of forgiveness are:
- a guarded/hardened heart becoming more soft and open
- mercy in place of judgement
- reconciliation instead of dismissiveness and avoidance
- love overcoming fear
Just as I needed skilled surgeons to help heal my body a couple of years ago, I need the Great Physician working in my life to heal hurts, carve away anger and infuse me with the grace to forgive. Without forgiveness growing in my heart, His light will dim and His hope stagnate.
It is my hearts prayer as we all learn to forgive more, we will become more like Stephen who showed forgiveness at a level I still cannot comprehend as he was viciously stoned by the crowd.(Acts 7:57-60)
Yelling and hissing, the mob drowned him out. Now in full stampede, they dragged him out of town and pelted him with rocks. The ringleaders took off their coats and asked a young man named Saul to watch them.
As the rocks rained down, Stephen prayed, “Master Jesus, take my life.” Then he knelt down, praying loud enough for everyone to hear, “Master, don’t blame them for this sin”—his last words. Then he died.
Amazing. Humbling. Without a doubt – from the very heart of God!
Forgiveness opens the heart to love again. It fills the landscapes of our lives with the colors of grace, texture of authenticity, and breathes hope and joy where only hurt and bitterness once thrived. I, by the grace of God, am on the journey of learning how to authentically forgive…I hope you will join me too!