I have been having a mighty struggle during the past week with anger, resentment, bitterness, and even feelings of hatred. Someone has caused my husband and me great hardship and financial loss because of a very stupid and inconsiderate act. We are now dealing with how to resolve the problem, and once again worrying about an unexpected lump of money we will have to come up with. And this is not the first time we have had to clean up after this person. Most likely it will not be the last. My feelings are justified. I have a right to feel furious, worried, angry and resentful. But do I have permission?
In James 1:20, James says, "for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." And he is right. God created us to take His light into the world no matter what our current circumstances might be. We were not given terms and conditions; no disclaimer on how we distribute our forgiveness. I am holding onto my ugly feelings, in part, because I don't want to let this person "off the hook" and make her think she has won and all is well. I want to have the upper hand. And it's wrong. I know it's wrong, and therefore I carry the additional burden of guilt for feeling this way. Boy, that Satan. He certainly knows our Achilles heels, doesn't he?
But Jesus is stronger than Satan, and He will not let me go through this alone. I know I must let go of this, and that the only way I can is with the help of mighty God. I must replace these feelings I have with kindness and forgiveness, and that doesn't mean when I'm good and ready. It means NOW. I must release my righteous indignation. I must be willing to let go of my desire to win, remembering that the only winner in all of this should be God, because when I am obedient to Him He wins. That's all that matters. This is NOT about me.
And so, the only thing I can do, the only weapon I can utilize, is prayer. I have been praying for the hardness in my heart to be softened and the anger to dissipate. I have been praying for God to help me as I wrestle with Satan, and I already feel the changes happening. I have given it to God. I have asked the One who has forgiven me to help me to forgive also. I am letting go. I have decided that pleasing God is more important than harboring my ugly feelings, no matter how justified I might think they are. I have only myself and my own actions to answer for when I stand at the judgment throne, and I want to have the Lord smile at me, not shake His finger. It's hard. But it's worth it. After all, if forgiveness was good enough for Jesus even as He was crucified, it's good enough for me. God said it, I believe it, that settles it!
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)
Pat is a good friend who is passionate about her faith and her family. She works from home supporting a family business, and loves to read, write and garden when she can, and spends every spare moment with her grandkids.