Here is the devotional:
Barbara came to church not long after my husband, the founding pastor, had unexpectedly died, and I had taken over his job as pastor.
Barbara caught my eye because she seemed unhappy and downtrodden. Her shoulders were hunched over, she didn’t make eye contact, and looked as if she would cry spontaneously.
When I greeted her, she looked down as I shook her hand, murmured “thank you,” and walked away. I wanted to speak with her longer, but she slipped away.
One Sunday, I finally managed to catch her and asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” She started to shake her head, but somehow mustered up the courage to ask, “Could I meet with you sometime?”
I agreed, and we set up a time to meet.
At our meeting, Barbara was dry-eyed and matter-of-fact as she spelled out how from the age of two or three years old, she had been abused physically and emotionally by several male family members.
As a result, her adult life was a mess. Her three children each had different fathers, and none of the men had stayed. Now she was struggling not only to raise three children but to form relationships with anyone, even friends and coworkers.
If you heard her whole story, you would understand why. She had no normalcy in her past, no way of knowing how to engage with people in a healthy way, and it affected every area of her life. My heart broke for her.
After meeting with her several times, I was at home praying for her one night: “Father, this is so unfair! It’s not Barbara’s fault that she was born into this abusive family, yet her life is a mess because of what those horrible people did to her. How can I help her? It can’t be hopeless. Is there an answer?”
And the Lord said, “Yes, there’s an answer.”
I said, “I knew it! What’s the answer?”
I was totally surprised. He said, “Forgiveness.”
That stopped me short. It wasn’t what I was expecting. I said, “No way! Are you sure, Lord? It doesn’t seem like forgiveness will help her get over everything that’s happened.”
And then the Lord told me something that I’ve never forgotten. He said, “Forgiveness is how my relationship started with you.” Wow, that’s something to think, isn’t it!
Here are the scriptures referenced:
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Colossians 2:13 KJV
Here are Stu’s thoughts:
Wow! Read that last paragraph again…slowly! That pretty much sums it all up, doesn’t it?
Our relationship with God began with forgiveness.
So, why can’t all relationships revolve around forgiveness? Yes even the bad ones…
Life is so unfair….
There a lot of children out there now; that, to be completely honest, deserve better parents. I don’t mean that for the parents who try their hardest to make things right for their kids and fall short.
I’m talking about the ones that have been physically abused…mentally abused…and sexually abused by their parents.
Did you know there are children being sold as sex toys by their own blankety blank parents???😠😠
No child deserves any of the above. And no child chose to have those things happen to them. It’s not their fault…period!
Ok, a spanking for doing something wrong…yeah. But to physically beat a child…hell no!
See for me those type of people should not even be allowed to breed.
There are women and men who have endured these things happening to them as a child. Women no longer trust men. Men no longer trust women.
I’ve seen grown women, single women mind you, flinch when someone raises their voice. That says something happened to them as a child, teen or young adult to make that happen. And they don’t even realize they do it. Angie didn’t when I saw her flinch one time😠
It is easier to raise a child right than it is to “fix” an adult!
And yet the only way for anyone to be “fixed”(healed) is to forgive.
I know that’s a tough one. It took me decades to forgive my dad. And if it wasn’t for God working on my heart it probably never would have happened.
Am I talking about forgiving that unknown driver who cut you off? Yes!
Am I talking about forgiving that person who ran over your heel with their shopping cart? Yes!
Am I even talking about forgiving those who have physically, sexually and mentally abused you? YES, I am!
Forgiving someone who has wronged you does nothing for anyone other than yourself. And that’s the point.
Forgiveness brings freedom!
Don’t believe me?
Remember that moment you asked Jesus into your heart?
Remember that moment you broke down in tears asking the Lord to forgive you?
Oh…how freeing that was!
We are told to love one another as Christ loves us. And we can not love someone if we hold a grudge for something they did to us no matter how bad that thing was!
Oh, so you feel they don’t deserve your love after what they have done…
Well no matter what they have done to anyone…God loves them. That’s enough for me.
God loves the rapist, liar, adulterer, abuser and sexually deviant ones everywhere.
I can love these people with a Godly love. I don’t have to be all mushy cushy with them or even a part of their lives. And I don’t have to agree, accept or condone what they have done. My job is to love them as Christ does.
So therefore, forgiveness must play a part. A major part!
So, if you want freedom from you anger/resentment…forgive!
If you want peace in your life…forgive!
And you keep forgiving them until it doesn’t bother you to hear their name mentioned. Because sometimes our flesh gets in the way of what the spirit is trying to accomplish.