I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Debbie Ramamoorthy (WITHIN Devotional Writer)
(***Trigger warning as there is mention of sexual assault***)
When was the last time someone did something that frustrated you? Hurt you? Disappointed you? Broke your trust? Betrayed you? I don't know about you, but this type of thing happens multiple times a day to me. I can't control how other people respond to me, my actions, my words, or my movements on social media, etc. But what happens when someone responds to me in a way that is offensive? I am hurt, offended, defensive, and lose my trust in that person.
God has been laying on my heart the topic of Forgiveness repeatedly. Recently, I was listening to a podcast where Lysa Terkeurst was a guest speaker. If you are not familiar with her, she speaks eloquently about this topic.
In my broken, sinful, prideful nature, my lack of forgiveness is something I've just learned to live with. Without realizing it, my lack of forgiveness eventually leads to hate. What a terrifying reality that this seed plants deep into our souls something as serious as hate! The deeper implication of this is that our Father God is not honored nor glorified with any unattended forgiveness that lies within us.
We can't control who hurts us, how they will offend us, or when they will betray us. But what we know for certain is that daily we hurt, offend and betray God. We intentionally turn our backs on our Heavenly Father, who from all good things come and every blessing under this Earth flows. What does He do in response? He loves us. He keeps running towards us. He keeps pursuing us.
Let's just sit in that for a moment. When we hurt our Father daily, He continues to love us relentlessly and deeply. But when others hurt us, we take offense, resisting to forgive them, and eventually allowing that to develop into something that hardens our heart.
But God gives us a way out of that place.
The reason for forgiveness is to draw us deeper into relationship with Jesus. It gets rid of anything that may be getting in the way.
I know that forgiveness is hard, and often feels impossible. Let me get personal with you for a moment, if I may. When I was a young girl, I was sexually assaulted. Without going into too much detail, I will let you know that for over a decade I carried that pain deep within me and refused to forgive the perpetrator. That felt like the safest option and the most reasonable. After all, how could I forgive that person, let alone let him get away. Not to mention, he didn't even ask for repentance! So, you can imagine why I felt adamant to not allow this person the privilege of my forgiveness.
Well, over the years, God in His absolute sovereignty continued to chisel within me the spaces of my heart that needed to understand what forgiveness looked like. Ultimately, He was trying to save and protect ME. I learned that He validates our pain. He validates our offense. He validates our hurt. He validates our betrayal and our lack of trust towards others because of their sin against us. He affirms it all. And then He asks for us to lay them at His feet, where He will take our burden.
I am not by any means trying to simplify a complex process, but I have absolute confidence that Jesus can take the impossible and walk us through it, making it possible.
My simple ask of you today is this: Each morning, when you wake up, before your feet hit the ground, make a commitment with God that you will forgive anyone who is going to hurt you, offend you, betray you, say something nasty to you, or cut you off in line.
By preemptively laying this at His feet, you are inviting God into the process. You are saying that, yes, forgiving is hard, but drawing close to Him and desiring Him is what you want more. And you won't let anything get in that way. You are saying that you recognize that Jesus wants our whole hearts, our renewed minds and our beautiful spirits and He doesn't want us to live with bitterness and hurt and hatred. And what’s amazing is, He enables us to do this by the power of His Spirit.
He is always forgiving us, waiting for us with open arms.
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
Matthew 18: 21-22
Questions to Reflect on: