Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Forgiveness, Part Two

Yesterday, I introduced the topic of forgiveness toward those who have done harm to us. I mentioned that forgiveness is important for physical healing, as well as spiritual and emotional healing. When we are suffering physically because someone has harmed us, our healing will be slow and incomplete if we hold on to anger and bitterness at those who are responsible. The mind and the body are interconnected, and when we keep nurturing bitter, angry, or resentful thoughts, we rub salt in our own wounds. I can testify that when I dwell on what that surgeon did wrong, or how that physical therapist didn't care, my pain becomes more pronounced, my sadness more intense, and my heart heavier.

Jesus asks me to bring my heavy heart to Him. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light . The only way I can receive His light yoke is to give Him my heavy one of unforgiveness and anger. But in order to do that, I must be able to trust Him with it. In order to trust Him, I must believe that He is sovereign.

But what does that word mean? Well, it means that Jesus, who is God,  is all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise. The Bible has much to say about God's control over this world and the things that happen in it. A quick Google search produced several pages of references, but I will include just a few of my favorites here for our consideration:

Psalm 115:3
Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.
This means what it says: God does whatever he pleases. Since He is perfect, good, loving and just, the things that please Him are also perfect, good, loving and just. We can be sure that, no matter what happens to us, His purpose is good.

Job 42:2  
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted."
Note the author here, and that this statement is toward the end of the book of Job. Job suffered much, and experienced crushing loss. When it was all over, Job was certain of God's sovereignty.

Isaiah 46:9-10  
Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose...’
Here, the Lord calls us to remember the many examples He has provided in His Word of events that prove His sovereignty. For me, this brings to mind the "Hall of Faith" in Hebrews 11. We have many examples of God's faithfulness in ruling well. We need not fear that He will fail us.

Romans 8:28 
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.
Though our circumstances and our pain do not seem good to us, we must believe what the Lord is telling us here. If we have been called by Him, we can be sure that He will work it all together for good. He has a purpose in what He is doing, and that purpose is His glory. When God is glorified, it is always good for us.

Psalm 135:6  
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.
When we are in rebellion against God's working in our lives, this verse will make us bristle. In our pride, we may be angry that the Lord is pleased to allow harm to come to us. But this is where we must think of Christ. Isaiah 53:10 says that "...it pleased the LORD to bruise Him..". We are so thankful that God was pleased to save us through Christ's suffering. Can we really say that we are unwilling to be bruised or suffer pain for His glory? We will never suffer as He did. Though His physical pain on the cross was unimaginably horrific, it was certainly not worse than the separation from God that He had to endure as He paid the price for our sin--even the sin of rebellion we are nurturing right now in our stubborn refusal to accept suffering as part of His good plan.

Isaiah 45:7 
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.
Isaiah 14:24 
The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand
He makes light and darkness and everything in between; good times and bad, according to His plan and purpose, He does all things. This is the bottom line. We can cry, lament, resent, hate, and plot revenge all we want; but ultimately, it is God who has brought us where we are today, pain and all. What will we do with this? Will we accept and rejoice in His sovereignty, taking each precious day as it comes and thanking Him for all things? Or will we continue to harbor bitterness and resentment, refusing to submit to something we don't understand? Think on this question, and meditate on these verses. Tomorrow, we will talk about how forgiving those who have hurt us will speed our healing.