“Tonight, I pray for those who have wronged me, used me, abused me — whether knowingly or unknowingly,” I wrote while a flood of emotions began to rise up within me as I came to a resolution. “I’ve decided that it’s between them and God.”
I had just gotten home from our weekly Saturday night prayer meeting at my church. My heart weighed so heavy, I just had to pour out my every thought into my prayer journal as soon as I got home. You see, that night after prayer, my Bishop had challenged our church to do something I honestly feel we as Christians don’t do enough. He asked us to pray for our enemies. He referenced Job 42:10 where Job prayed for his friends and the Lord gave Job twice of what he had before.
“We all know those ‘friends’ were really Job’s enemies,” Bishop Huntley continued, “The only thing keeping us from our double blessing is not praying for our enemies.” Then, he had us do something that changed the way I will approach forgiveness forever. He had us call out all the names of those who wronged us before the Lord in prayer. It was the most powerful and emotional end to any prayer meeting I’ve been a part of.
Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat on my bed and began to list the names of each person I have been hurt by in my 24 years of living. Staring at a once empty page, I noticed the list had turned out longer than I had expected. As I turned over the page, I began to do something I’ve never done before… I asked God to move on their hearts. I pleaded with Him to turn their hearts back to Christ and to have His way in their lives.
I then began to ask the Lord to work on MY heart. To take me back to those moments of pain and hurt, and to free me from unresolved bitterness and anger in those moments.
The flashbacks began to crowd my mind. Tears came, streaming down my face as I began to remember every detail. Every word cut like knives. Every tease, every painful moment came rushing back.
“They’ll never know the hell they put me and family through some days,” I continued writing as I relived every battle I’ve ever fought in my mind, “…Through it all, God had me.” Tears began to stain the paper as the words kept coming. I couldn’t stop. And then, I wrote down all the things every situation had taught me.
And as my entry came to a close, I looked back at those things and gave thanks. “So I guess if there’s one thing I could say, I would say thank you… Like gold tried in the fire, I know we can withstand the flames.”
There is so much I could say on the topic of forgiveness, but let me just leave you with a few thoughts…
Forgiveness is a daily decision. We always hear the expression, “Forgive and forget.” Well, excuse me for being a bit cliché but that’s easier said than done. A lot of times, there are situations that arise and little things that happen that can trigger a painful memory or hurt. It’s in these moments where we begin to feel the same emotions rise back up to the surface.
When this happens, we have a decision to make. We can allow ourselves to be bitter. Or we can forgive again. Each day, you have a choice to make. I pray you choose to forgive.
Unforgiveness creates resentment. I was talking with Nina a few days ago and she said it like this:
Unforgiveness creates resentment in our hearts for the things we feel they stole from us. Suddenly, we begin to think of all the things we harbor resentment for and replace them by saying, “They stole _____.” Or, “I’ll never be able to get back the _____ they took from me!”
You may feel like someone stole something in your life. Whether it be the time you had with them, the idea of a perfect relationship, whatever it may be… Though it may be true, unforgiveness will cause you to harbor resentment and bitterness toward that person. Please, choose love.
True forgiveness means to wipe the slate clean. When Jesus died on the cross, the blood He shed was enough to wipe away every sin we ever committed. We should be the ones paying for our sin and shame, and yet, Christ paid a debt He never owed in the first place.
The same happens when we truly forgive others. True forgiveness is saying, “You don’t owe me anything.” Even if the person apologizes or admits that they were wrong, it can’t make up for lost time or change the fact that the damage has already been done. It simply means that you are moving forward. Choose grace, and move on.
So I want you to take a moment and search deep within yourself. Who are your enemies? Who have you been harboring resentment toward? It’s time to be like Job and pray for those who have wronged us. Write their names down and call out their names before the Lord. And then… let go.