Unshakable Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

A Lesson about Forgiveness

The need to be forgiven by God and forgiving those who’ve hurt us is an indisputable doctrine of Christianity. Denominations might differ on many points but this isn’t one of them. But forgiving those who’ve hurt us (emotionally, physically, financially or even spiritually) can be a really difficult thing to do sometimes, especially if that hurt was inflicted upon us at a time that we were physically helpless or in other ways vulnerable.

Such was the case with Mary and me a few years after I was diagnosed with ALS. I had lost my ability to speak and was confined to a wheelchair. We were both emotionally and physically exhausted, financially broke and spiritually confused; in every sense of the word, we were vulnerable. It was in this weakened condition that someone took advantage of us financially. It was especially hurtful because this act was committed in the name of “helping us.”

This was the greatest test of forgiveness I had faced since committing my life to Christ. I had never before been hurt to the extent of not wanting to relinquish my anger. Looking back I realize that this situation was made worse because the physical weakness that resulted from the ALS had already made me feel emasculated so, in addition to the emotional, financial and marital stress this situation caused, I felt somewhat like a victim of bullying. I did NOT want to forgive this person!

After weeks of allowing my anger stealing my joy, peace and hope, I began praying for God to help me move on. It was about this time that I read or remembered the words of Jesus; “…pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:28). But the last thing I wanted to do was pray for this person. I faced a clear choice; hold on to my anger with no hope, joy and peace or step out in faith and obey Jesus’ command to start praying for this person. I chose the latter, and it was a conscious choice; it was the last thing that I “felt” like doing.

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25-26 NASB)

Through clenched teeth I told God that I forgave this person but only because He told me to do so. Then I began praying that God would bless this person’s marriage, health, finances and every part of their life. It was really difficult the first few times I prayed for this person, but it gradually became easier. Then, after several days of praying, a strange thing began to happen; it was as if the Holy Spirit opened a window and allowed me to begin seeing the situation from this person’s point of view.

I knew this individual was also in financial trouble and had been “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Unfortunately this person chose me to play Peter’s role. But I gradually began to see how much stress this person was under and how it affected every aspect of their life. I actually began feeling sorry for this person and began praying earnestly for God to bless them every time they came to my mind. I still do this today and I can honestly say that I sincerely hope this person’s life has been blessed since that time.

The simple fact is that hurting people, hurt people. But having insight into the troubles of those that have hurt us and our forgiving them for their wrong behavior should not be viewed as excusing or in any way justifying their wrong actions. Like everything else that Jesus commanded us to do, forgiving others is for our benefit – so that we can have joy, peace and unshakable hope.

I’m sure there are those reading this post who’ve been victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or other horrible things that are much more difficult to forgive than my relatively minor example. I realize that some things are harder to forgive than others, but Jesus didn’t offer exceptions to this rule; His command couldn’t be more straightforward – “…if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:14-15 NASB)

Jesus didn’t merely speak these words; He lead by example by forgiving those that mocked, tortured and nailed Him to the cross (Luke 23:34).

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115 thoughts on “A Lesson about Forgiveness

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  1. Pingback: “A Lesson I Learned About Forgiveness” 11/16/2013 | God's Group

  2. Bill,
    I’ve not blogged in quite some time for several reasons and one being, “Hurt.” Late in December 2012, the LORD spoke one word into my spirit being to focus upon in 2013, and that word has been, “Hope.” Within the last 14 days, God has been revealing Himself to me in and through the “Hurt.” Today, I received a book entitled, “Wounded by God’s People” by Anne Graham Lotz. The book goes on sale in bookstores September 1st. God’s perfect timing has encouraged and uplifted me in and through this painful journey. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would have been wounded in a manner by the body of Christ, and never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have reacted and responded as I have. Thank you for sharing your story (again, God’s perfect timing that this popped up on my blog). God is letting me know that He sees my hurt, just as He seen Hagar’s, just as He seen Joseph’s, and just as He saw your’s, and that I can confidentally trust Him to redeem that which I commit to Him… transform the “Hurt” into “Blessed Hope!” (Romans 8:28)

    • I am sorry you’ve been hurt, especially by people calling themselves Christians. I too have found that “HOPE” is a powerful word; telling others about that revelation is the reason I started this blog. I think you should try blogging again.

  3. Great blog, Bill. It’s hard to believe someone could do that to you, particularly in your position. In spite of being robbed, you were still “richer” from the experience and though he ended up with your money, he became poorer. Thanks for your Christ-like attitude and commitment to doing things His way.

  4. Since my husband Jim has been so ill with chronic Lyme disease and his overlap ALS symptoms, we too have had to keep anger at bay. It is difficult but as you very nicely wrote about this, it causes more damage to keep that energy in anger mode. I am still learning to forgive and release the anger, it is something you have to work on every day. But it is so important.

  5. Great posts on your blog!

  6. You are inspiring. The lesson of forgiveness is something we all must learn…

  7. Pingback: Forgiving Those #$@%! | jadesandwich

  8. Thanks for this. I’m still having a hard time forgiving, but I’m going to take the fact that I read this today as a sign for me to try praying for those whom I can’t forgive, like you did. Great post~

  9. Pingback: ‘Forgive One Another Freely’ | Bible Questions Answered—By ideacreamanuela

  10. So beautifully written. Thank you.

  11. Amen to this lesson Bill. When my dear wife applied this I became blessed with no longer being her 24/7 carer! Praise you Lord. [You may have read her account of being no longer registered permanently disabled? See http://wp.me/P1Y1yB-LF%5D

  12. It is so lovely to read your words. Forgiveness is such a difficult act at times & also a powerful healer. Thanks for the reminder, we all need to keep honest about our ability to wander from the path. Many blessings to you.

  13. Bill, forgiveness is a tough journey. Your story is very powerful and inspiring. My own journey of forgiving my parents was very freeing, but it took me years to make the choice to forgive. I held onto my hurt and resentment for a very long time. As you said, physical and sexual abuse goes very deep.

    • You are so right, Denise, forgiveness, like every aspect of our walk with Christ, is a journey. Many times we come to a place on our journey and ask ourselves, “I thought I already passed this point?” I think you can relate.

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