Updated: Oct 21, 2020
The room falls into an eerie stillness. The words were harsh and filled with anger. The heart breaks and the spirit inside is crushed. Anger meets anger as the flesh rises up, takes over and responds in kind.
I go home and the scenes play over and over in my mind. I begin to talk to the Lord about what went down. FORGIVE, He says. “Lord, you heard what he said!” My hearts breaks anew as his words continue to ring through my head.
Days after the “incident”, my mind turns to what the Lord said to me and I remember that time, years ago, when the Lord asked me a question that rocked my world!
It happened when I was mayor of my tiny hometown. We had a hot button issue on the agenda and the room was full of angry people. It was a meeting that went really, really bad; really, really fast. It quickly went out of control and there wasn’t anything I could do to reign the chaos back in. We weren’t just verbally attacked as a city council. No, they brought it down to a personal level. It was a terrible experience….almost frightening. Ha, small town politics can be just as hateful and unforgiving as world politics.
When I remember that night, Deuteronomy 31:6 comes to mind. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
That night, I remember KNOWING that I wasn’t alone in that room. I felt the PRESENCE of the Holy Spirit. Now, on the outside, during this meeting, I was calm, cool and collected. I managed to hold it together until I get home…. where I proceeded to have a total melt down.
I was wounded! I couldn’t stop crying. I’d never been hurt like that before. My mind just couldn’t STOP reliving those hateful moments…….over and over. I was a mess for several days. You see, at that time, I was still like a child in my walk with the Lord. I’d only been back in church for a couple of years. I was trying to put it behind me and get over it under my own power. I didn’t know to give it to the Lord. I was walking in the flesh. I remember one crying jag asking the Lord: Why me? Why did this happen to me? I’m a nice person and I’m giving of time and putting in a lot of effort in trying to make my hometown a better place to live. Why me!!?
1 Peter 4:12 KJV Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you”.
So there I am, on the floor, a big slobbery crying mess asking the Lord, Why did this happen to me? And like a loud booming voice inside my spirit, the Lord asked me:
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO MY SON ON THE CROSS?
GASP!! Immediately, in my mind, I pictured this scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is Jesus on the cross. Where does my hurt register on this scale?
It didn’t even register on the scale! It was, like, a -100. It was almost laughable to compare it to my Savior on the cross.
How does this compare to my son on the cross? You know, that question has helped me put so many hurts into its proper perspective.
Now, in my younger days, I could really be a drama queen. This kind of offense would have taken me months and months to get over. I was the person who liked to visit her hurt over and over. “Here you are HURT. Let’s pull you out. Let’s wipe the dust off. Let me nurse you. Let’s keep you alive, Hurt.”
But just mere hours after the Lord spoke to me, for the first time ever, I prayed for my enemies. Although I didn’t count them as enemies, I knew they saw me as one. 3 days is all it took for me to totally forgive. Admittedly, the hurt took a little longer to get over, but the healing process began with me forgiving the hateful things they said.
In the words of Ginny Owens (singer/songwriter) “It’s not the trial that makes us stronger, it’s what we choose to do in the midst of that trial.” We can choose to wallow in our misery or we can choose to lay it at the cross. ‘Here Lord, here’s my hurt. Help me to forgive them.’ Forgiveness is a choice.
James 1:2-4 tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Yes, that episode brought about maturity in me. I not only forgave my transgressors, but I prayed for them as well. Forgiving them made me a stronger person and it gave me freedom.
What about the story of Joseph? His own brothers sold him into slavery. What happens at the end of that story? Joseph forgives them. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” God turned Joseph’s circumstance around and put him in a position of authority. The story of Joseph is an incredible story of forgiveness!
But the greatest story of forgiveness is when our Savior, Jesus Christ, hung on the cross. “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34. WOW!
How does this compare to my Son on the cross?
Colossians 3:12-13 tells us to “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also MUST DO.”
Jesus forgave. How can I not?
Take it from me, don’t try to forgive under your own might. It can’t be done. If you’re in a valley; if you’re going through that fire, remember you’re not alone.
Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
The Lord wants us to give Him our burdens. It’s okay to have a meltdown, but while you are in the valley, allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you. Allow Him to heal your heart. BUT THEN, pick yourself back up. Straighten your crown. And move forward.
So here I am, again. My heart has been trampled and in my anger, I have sinned. I repent, Lord. Thank you for forgiving me and helping me to FORGIVE him.