This month, Heather shares that Jesus is there for you when you need help forgiving others.
The weeks that followed that difficult day were filled with unstoppable tears and more questions for God than we had answers. We found ourselves with people in our home day and night, and in the midst of our own pain, we needed to comfort others who were on a fast track to being a casualty of war due to what had transpired. Many were ready to fight for us. Some were so deeply hurt that they were ready to quit church. Others were on the brink of walking away from Jesus because they couldn’t understand what had just happened, and they couldn’t understand how “the church” could cause such pain.
I had pastored others through their stories of experiencing hurt from the church, but I hadn’t really experienced it on a deep level myself… Until that week in 2020. I would often go into the bathroom to turn on the shower so that I could “ugly cry” without my kids hearing or seeing the tears flow. The bathroom became a place of mourning, but it soon turned into a pity party where only the devil and I showed up. I remember one moment when I was crying out to God with my questions: “When will justice be served? When will they get what they deserve? When will You vindicate us? When and how are You going to deal with them?”
And then, I heard the loving voice of the Father answer me, “Vindication may not look like you want it to or even come when you think it should. But you need to handle this hurt and pain in such a way that I don’t have to deal with you later.”
That wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I really needed to hear it. I’m so glad we have a Father who loves us enough to keep us from staying where we are. I wasn’t bitter… yet. But had I stayed in my attitude and pain, bitterness was my destination, ready to welcome me with open arms. Until that moment of the Father’s loving correction, hurt and pain had become the filter in which I viewed the world around me. In an effort to self-preserve, I was ready to walk away from ministry and everything the Lord had called me to at the age of 14.
It was through that loving correction that my filter began to change. Quitting the ministry wasn’t God’s plan—it was the enemy’s. Isolation wasn’t God’s plan—it was the enemy’s. The church hurt we were experiencing wasn’t God’s plan; ultimately, that also was the enemy’s plan.
When my eyes were opened to who the real enemy was in the situation and all that was at stake, a holy resolve came over me. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” I began to see the real enemy in what had transpired. It wasn’t my brothers and sisters in Christ. Did some of the pain come from them? Yes. But they weren’t the enemies. After all, we are going to be enjoying heaven together!
You might be reading this and thinking, “She has no idea how badly I’ve been hurt. Forgiving is too hard.” Please trust me when I say that I have so much compassion for you and the hurt you have experienced. I know how hard it is to forgive. Especially when it’s people or “the church” who you think should know better. Despite the pain I experienced, I had an incredible opportunity to forgive. And that is what I did. I repeated “I forgive them” about 900 times a day. I knew I needed to do it until my heart caught up with my head. God, in His mercy, was so close to me in the pain; He was there to bring healing and to help me forgive every time I chose to partner with Him in the process.
I want to encourage you with the incredible hope that we have in Jesus. Because He forgave us, we, too, can forgive those who have hurt us. Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything that He was unwilling to do, Himself. I know forgiving can be hard, but I also know that when we are weak, He is strong. Jesus has great plans for you, and the pain you have gone through will not define you. It will serve to give God glory because of the great testimony you will be for Him!
If you need help in forgiving others, please know that Jesus is for you. Here are some decrees to help you forgive those who have hurt you:
- I am a person who forgives because I also have sinned and need forgiveness. – Romans 3:23-24
- The real struggle is not against flesh and blood but against rulers and powers of darkness, and I will not partner with darkness by holding unforgiveness. – Ephesians 6:12
- I forgive because Christ forgave me. – Ephesians 4:32
- I am a person of mercy, and I extend it to others. – Matthew 5:7
- I choose to overlook offenses and seek love. – Proverbs 17:9
Want More? Then May We Suggest:
All of heaven is available to you right now through the finished work of the cross. But often it does not look or feel that way. The reason: There is a battle for your mind, will and emotions that largely determines the fullness of God’s presence, power and Kingdom that you walk in. It is critical that you partner with Him to the battle.