Tag Archives: Peace

The Gift of Forgiveness, Part I

We hear often how forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves.  While this is absolutely true, in the bigger picture, the ability to forgive others is a gift given to us from God…because truly “to forgive is divine.”  Within ourselves we human beings just don’t seem to have the capacity to wipe others slate clean in our minds and hearts on our own power.  Our form of forgiveness is convoluted with strings attached, hidden pockets of pain and bitterness that surface at the most inconvenient times – complete with elephant-type memories regarding the deeply painful acts and attitudes toward us.  How we struggle with forgiveness!  Pure forgiveness is indeed a freely-given gift from the only perfect forgiver, Jesus Christ.

The Lord's Prayer (1886-1896) from the series ...

The Lord’s Prayer (1886-1896) from the series The Life of Christ, Brooklyn Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We know we are supposed to forgive.  The Lord’s prayer, reads in part:

and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.  Matthew 6:12

Forgiveness

Forgiveness (Photo credit: poportis)

This is clearly not an option, but a command from God who has forgiven us – that we MUST forgive those who have inflicted pain upon us to have a clear relationship with God.  But, oh how we struggle!

In a sense, granting forgiveness is like hitting bottom with a drug or alcohol addiction.  What finally causes one to surrender is unique to each person.  Those who love an addict agonize in prayer over them and keep hoping that each new crisis or even happy “big life moment” will be THAT THING that will cause that one to admit there is a problem, surrender to Christ and submit to a program that will help them overcome their addiction.  But that turning point is indeed different for every person who has made that huge u-turn in life.  And so it is with forgiveness.  For the person who knows they need to forgive and willingly travels that journey toward totally releasing that person or group of people in their lives that has caused pain, the point of letting go mentally and emotionally differs.

But God is faithful.  Forgiveness is for real.  If we are seeking to obey Him in this area, He will provide that necessary ability to forgive fully, but it is a journey.  It is a process.  The gift of forgiveness – the ability from God to forgive others is a sweetness to our soul.  It brings smiles and relief and often times reconciliation and tenderness to a relationship that looked like it was beyond recovery.  Forgiveness is a miracle.

Forgiveness is and isn’t many things.

Forgiveness does not mean that we minimize what that person has done.  Forgiveness most certainly will cost us in some way.  We may have to endure the consequences for the other person’s sin against us, and perhaps for a very long time.  Forgiveness does not mean we necessarily go back to “life as normal.”  The act of forgiveness sometimes means that we are separated from that person, yet our hearts are at peace.  Sometimes, the relationship becomes stronger and more connected with granting forgiveness.  We do not have power over the outcome of granting forgiveness, but obeying God by forgiving is always for our good.  The is greatness and exhilaration in the peace that God provides to our souls when we forgive.

Forgiveness lesson from flowers

Forgiveness lesson from flowers (Photo credit: juliejordanscott)

Forgiveness is freedom.  We give up the notion to desire any punishment or ill will toward that person in our minds.  We can pray that God will bless them and mean it, and go on with our lives.  We find ourselves to be “bigger”, stronger, more generous and sweeter human beings.  The best part of forgiveness is that it opens the doorway to run to God full throttle, leaping up into His arms and experiencing that sweet communion that cannot be described in words.  There is nothing between God and ourselves when we willingly forgive others, and in the process admit our own sins and weaknesses.

Our hearts are softened by granting forgiveness.  This too is a gift from God.

I will given them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them.  I will take away their stony stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations.  Then they wil truly be my people, and I will be their God.  Ezekiel 11:19-20

 

 

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Peace in the Hurly-Burly

Every human soul longs for peace.  Ask fifty people their definition of peace and chances are you will hear fifty varied responses!  A short concordance definition gives these definitions for peace:

A state of tranquility or quiet;  a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity; harmony in personal relations, especially with God;  a state of security or order within a community;  freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions.

Of all the above definitions “harmony in personal relations, especially with God” trumps all other forms of peace.  Although we desire them all, when we are at peace with our Creator, our perspective changes.  Although all the pieces of our lives may not fit the puzzle, it is still o.k. when we have God’s peace!  The people I look up to in life do not live lives of ease, rather they are those who have had great troubles, and have come to a place of peace in the midst of their trials of life.  My dear friends with cancer, a mentor whose faith burned brightly with a sharp and articulate mind, even as she faced death, my friend whose heart ached by unfair mistreatment from another, the couple whose adult child is currently in the grips of chemical addiction, the one who spoke of God’s faithfulness even when her world fell apart by choices she had made.  When she regained her faith she was able to point to this verse:

Jesus said,

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.  Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.  But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Take heart, be encouraged – there is a bigger picture that what we now see.  Perspective changes everything.

We experience God’s peace when we are able to give over the things in our lives that do not make sense, the things that trouble us, the circumstances for which we have no control.  These trials of life are not allowed so that we lose hope.  Rather in giving these over to God we grow in trust and faith in Him and His ability to make good out of what is now seemingly bad.

Not a few Christians live in a state of unbroken anxiety, and others fret and fume terribly.  To be perfectly at peace amid the hurly-burly of daily life is a secret worth knowing…People know you live in the realm of anxious care by the lines on your face, the tones of our voice, the minor key of your life, and the lack of joy in your spirit…Come, my soul, return unto thy rest, and lean thy head upon the bosom of the Lord Jesus.”   -Mrs. Charles E. Cowman, Streams in the Desert

The Serenity prayer points out that there are things under our control, and things that are not.  It is in the things that are not, that we can place into the hands of God in growing trust.  His peace is worth it all, and provides amazing strength for the next page of our life’s story.

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Rotten Cancer

Someone I dearly love has been diagnosed with cancer.  Surgery is imminent.  As I listened to her characteristically cheerful voice there was a tinge of apprehension about the upcoming discomfort of the treatment.  Yet, she was optimistic about the future.  My heart went out to her.  This has been someone who has lovingly cared for me when I was ill.  How I wish I could close my eyes and make the reality of this rotten cancer go away.  While I am thankful for the medical strides that have taken place and I know she will be well cared for, I wish she didn’t have to endure what is ahead.

I am comforted that my Lord knows suffering.  Hurt and pain and disease were not hypothetical circumstances to Him.  While on earth He suffered excruciating pain, so when He offers compassion it comes from a deep, real place.  He offers us something beyond sympathy.

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  John 14:27 (NLT)

As we reach out to those who suffer physically, mentally and emotionally and seek to be His hands and feet, may we carry with us the peace of God and offer it to a hurting world in Jesus’ name.

 

 

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A Story, An Allegory, A Life Transformed

“O God, if there is a God anywhere, you must make yourself real to me.  If you exist and are really what people describe you to be, you can’t leave me like this,”

cried out a nineteen-year old Hannah Hurnard who was suffering both mental and physical anguish.

Hannah’s life was changed in that moment of crisis from someone who was contemplating suicide into someone who would develop the hope, faith and strength to help change many people’s lives through her writing.  A sweet friend gave me a copy of Hannah’s book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places, a powerful allegory of her life journey.  It is a story of a echoed theme of those who have  faced unbearable pain, in some form, and in their time of agony have turned to God and found that times of suffering become the foundation of understanding to their life’s meaning and the means of creating compassion for other people.

Hanna’s moment of crisis is not too far removed from David of the Bible when in Psalm 25:16-18 he writes,

“Turn to me and have mercy, for I am alone and in deep distress.  My problems go from bad to worse.  Oh, save me from them all!  Feel my pain and see my trouble.  Forgive all my sins.”

The thoughts and feelings are so common that at countless memorials with which I was involved chose Psalm 23 which declares:

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

The good news that changed Hannah Hurnard’s life and the lives of countless others is that God listens and God cares and makes Himself real.  When in doubt of God’s love for us, we need look no further than the cross of Christ where Jesus gave the ultimate sacrifice to save us both from those things which we suffer through on earth, and for life forever with Him in heaven.  Psalm 23 ends with:

Surely goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”  Psalm 23:6

Lives are saved, restored and given new meaning and purpose when in that moment of crisis we turn in faith to God and cry out like Hannah did, “you must make yourself real to me.”  In the quietness of our hearts and the sincerity of our motives, God is faithful to not only make Himself real, but to turn our lives around, and give us the gifts of joy despite circumstances and peace of heart and mind.

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Filed under Book Recommendations, Depression