If I remember the hurt? the heartbreak? does that mean I have not forgiven as God wants me to?
Do I still have to have a relationship with that person?
Does my forgiveness mean they are not guilty?
We often have misguided perceptions about what forgiveness is and is not—
In the meantime–here are my notes!
There is a wonderful story in the Bible about a young man who had every legitimate reason to hang on to anger, and hold a grudge, He even had an opportunity to experience the joy of payback, but he chose a different response.
Joseph’s story begins in Genesis 37 and continues for 10 chapters. Joseph was favored by his father, but he was alienated by his brothers. When he was only 17 years old, his brother sold him into slavery. According to God‘s plan, he ended up in the powerful kingdom of Egypt. Joseph was later in prison for a crime he didn’t commit so not only had his brothers abandoned him in these early days, but then he ended up being wrongfully imprisoned!
This story is a very real example of how strife can continue to show up throughout our lives. The story follows a series of divine interventions that are shared in this passage of Genesis. Joseph eventually left prison and became the second in command in Egypt reporting directly to pharaoh and soon found himself to be the one his brothers came to with pleas for help. The same ones who had done him wrong, who had mistreated him, who had violated the trust of brotherhood.
You can read powerful parts of this story in Gen 45:1-8. We see over and over how Joseph had every reason to repay his brothers for the agony they caused him, however he did not choose to take that opportunity. He forgave them because he allowed love to replace bitterness. He understood that God‘s plan for his story exceeded his own plans.
As we pause this week, let’s think about the plans that God has for our lives and how those plans supersede times of violation and wrong treatment. Let’s remember that God has a plan for our lives, and it cannot be uprooted by those who choose to do wrong against us.
At the same time, there are 3 things we need to remember about what forgiveness is not —
- Forgiveness is not forgetting
We often hear the phrase “forgive and forget” but the truth is forgiveness doesn’t imply amnesia—the reality is that we will REMEMBER—what matters is what we do with those memories—God asks us to keep giving them over to Him to handle.
- Forgiveness does not mean minimizing the hurt
Forgiveness does not water down the offense by saying, “It’s OK that wasn’t bad, I know you didn’t mean to hurt me.” The truth is that you have been hurt deeply and sometimes intentionally. Forgiveness does not say I’m all right –God is a God of TRUTH. Forgiveness calls violation what it is just as an umpire calls out what he sees.
- Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation
Perhaps you were thinking if I forgive, I must initiate or be receptive to reconciliation. Reconciliation might not be an option for you. Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation. Sometimes it is better for that person or the person who violated your trust or your faithfulness to be removed from your life.
Let’s take some time this week to pause to sit before the Lord and lay those situations of strife in front of Him, acknowledge the situation of strife and brokenness and ask Him to move in the situation. Let’s ask Him to show us where we are wrong and what we can do to improve and bring more fruit, godly character, and holiness into our own lives. Ask Him to show us what forgiveness looks like in our situation. What it is or is not so that we can land in the place that we’re promised in Romans 8:28 that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
We know those words are true for the perpetrator in our situation of strife equally as much as they are for us. God will work all things together for the good of those who love Him so if there’s someone who is involved in your situation of strife where —
you were truly hurt,
you feel violated,
whatever your feelings and emotions are just knowing that God has that other person, or those other people, also in His grip if they love Him and are called according to His purposes. He will handle that for you. He will take care of it on your behalf. He will either give you the wisdom and show you what to do or He will change their heart.
We can trust him with our pain,
and our violators.
I love the verses in Colossians 3:12-15 and want to pray them out over us right now–
God, You chose me to be a holy woman. You love me and I desire to clothe myself with tenderhearted mercy, with kindness, with humility, with gentleness and patience. Father help me to make allowances for the faults of others and forgive those who have offended me. I do remember Lord that You forgave me, so I must forgive others. Help me Lord to cover my heart with love which binds me together with all your people in perfect harmony. Let the peace that comes from you Jesus rule in my heart. I am a member of one body, and I am called to live in peace. I am thankful for Your love. In Jesus name, Amen.
Blessing’s friend–I hope you will keep coming back to pause together in God’s sweet presence.