...that begins with a DECISION
The unforgiveness you hold in your heart does not hurt the other person; but rather, it slowly destroys "your" entire being, robbing you of "your" life, all the while separating you from the presence of God.
Oh, I know firsthand, the pain and suffering caused by that gigantic bitter pill that was shoved down your throat... against your will. You didn't ask for it; you didn't even deserve it. You've tried to get rid of it. Yet, here you are, going through the motions of life on "automatic pilot". No joy. No vision. No peace. Just a nagging replay of your offense, going over and over and over again in your head. You want so desperately to be freed from this torment... But how?
First of all, let me tell you that you "are" capable of forgiving. No matter how vile your injury, God has given you the strength, power, and ability to overcome those demonic forces that have hurt you.
Once you have determined in your heart that you must forgive, you'll need to stick with your resolve until your emotions line-up with God's Word. The ONLY way to do this is through PRAYER... and lots of it!
After my husband defiled our marriage of eighteen years by gambling our finances away, lying, alcoholism, drug addictions, and secretly (so he thought) lusting over pornography, I was angry and frustrated to no end. But, once he crossed the sacred line of our marriage vows (after all that I had already put up with) by committing adultery, it was as if Satan, himself, shoved a nine-foot-tall glass of bitterness down my throat. I was poisoned! And now, this poison made me think I'd never be the same. I thought I'd never be able to get over the hell that he put me through for so many years. I was mad at him; I was mad at the adulteress; I was mad at an in-law for deceiving me concerning my husband's whereabouts; and, I was mad at God for allowing this to happen to me!
First, when the Bible speaks of "seventy times seven"... it's not a finite number, such as four-hundred and ninety. When Jesus told Peter that he should forgive "seventy times seven", He was actually saying, "You must always forgive." Let's look at another passage of scripture that confirms this point...
Thankfully, this godly counselor gave me the following pieces of wisdom that saved my mind and made it possible for me to move forward in God's Will of forgiveness. First, he said, you must forgive your husband, as well as everyone else who has offended you throughout this trial. This does not mean that you have to stay married to your husband (Matthew 19:7-9 - according to scripture, divorce is permitted in the case of adultery - but this is not God's perfect plan); it does not mean that you have to associate with the adulteress or even keep company with your in-law. You "do" however need to stay in fellowship with God.
Then he said, "You need to compartmentalize your offenses so that you can deal with one hurdle at a time; leaving all of the other people and problems in the Lords care until you are ready to handle more." Learning to separate the troubling aspects of my life, to deal with one thing at a time, was a huge piece to the puzzle of my forgiveness journey.
And so, I decided to work on forgiving my husband, first. Of course, I knew I couldn't stay mad at God. After-all, without His blessings I'd never be whole again. He is my breath, my life, my strength, and my source. I needed Jehovah Shalom (My God of Peace) to restore my soul. I cried, "God help me!", as I literally ran to my closet - many times a day - screaming, crying, arguing, reminding, begging (yes, even begging) God to help me to forgive. I quoted scripture. I bound up principalities and powers. I bound good things (according to God's Word) to me, my husband, and my children. I pleaded, "God, take this bitterness from me! Help me to forgive!" Each day, the Lord would take my bitterness from me and I would be strengthened, but the next day... I would have to start the process all over again.
It's not that the Lord didn't take it; rather, I kept taking it back. The devil would flood my mind with horrendous thoughts and images sending me into a panic attack as adrenaline surged through every cavity of my soul. This was truly the hardest battle I had ever fought.
It took me about a year to purge the bitterness that consumed by being. I don't recall the exact moment, or the exact day, but I just know that at some point I became free. Of course, throughout this year long prayer vigil, I prayed for my husband (the one who offended me). Thankfully, he became a born-again believer shortly after our marital collapse; and so, I decided that if I had to forgive him, then I wanted the prize for my hard work. I wanted my marriage to be restored... and it was! Hallelujah!
Your situation may not require restoration with your offender. Perhaps you were violated by a stranger, or maybe by an acquaintance. Regardless of "who" hurt you, forgiveness mandates that you pray blessings and not cursings upon your perpetrator. If you find that too hard to do, start by praying for their salvation - that is more than enough. If the person claims to be a Christian, then pray that God will open the eyes of their understanding so perhaps they'll feel remorse over hurting you and ask for your forgiveness. If they don't... it's OK! Pray for them to not suffer the consequences of the wages of their sin(s) toward you.
I once witnessed someones house burning down in the middle of the night shortly after they blind sighted me with hideous rage. Through this instance, the Lord taught me the importance of praying for my enemies. That person, and their entire family, were not born-again believers and they would have all spent eternity in hell - had they died in their house fire that night. Was their house fire the wrath of God? That, I don't know; but, what I do know is that God spoke to my heart about the importance of praying for those who have offended me.
* Realize that forgiveness is a commandment from God... it's not a suggestion.
* Purpose in your mind and heart that you will purge "all" bitterness and malice toward your offender.
* Cry out to God DAILY asking Him to take the bitterness from you - UNTIL IT IS ALL GONE!
* Compartmentalize your problems so that you can accomplish one thing at a time, leaving the others in God's hands until you are ready to deal with them.
* Pray for your offender. Pray blessings and not cursings.
* Read your Bible.
* Praise and worship God in the midst of your pain. (This really confuses the devil.)
* Don't rehearse your bitterness. Only speak of your testimony in light of what God has done to turn things around, according to His Word - and not according to the desires of your flesh.
* Speak the truth in love. If possible, tell the person that they offended you. Perhaps they'll repent. If they don't... you must still forgive, for your sake!
Remember what Jesus said as He hung on the cross... "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." This should be your example. This should be your goal. When you choose to forgive, you create fertile ground for God to work a miracle. Who knows? Maybe "your miracle" will be a restored marriage, mended relationship(s), a new job, born-again family members, your offender becomes born-again, financial prosperity, healing in your body, a dream accomplished or ____________ (put your secret heart's desire here). With God, all things are possible!
...Forgive and be free in Jesus name!
Please know, I share the details of my marriage in a transparent way because I want you to know that if Jesus can save our family, change my husband, and heal my broken heart... He can do the same for you. I now have a wonderful husband who is a born-again man of God. He is the head of our household and is completely free of all addictions. The Word of God is true and powerful!
For more teachings on FORGIVENESS, please click this link and order the CD or DVD of FAITH, FORGIVENESS, FUTURE. http://www.deborahrossministries.org/
Another great resource for FORGIVING and for overcoming ADDICTIONS, GENERATIONAL CURSES, and STRONGHOLDS OF THE MIND is the double CD set titled ROOT DIGGER, NOT A RUG SWEEPER. Click the link here to order yours... http://www.deborahrossministries.org/
Yours in Christ, Deborah
Deborah Ross Ministries
Strengthening Families & Encouraging Women