True forgiveness is tough, especially if we really were wronged. Someone undermines you at work and it costs you a promotion; another student steals an answer key but you’re blamed; a loved one has abused you in some way, your child was murdered. The list is truly endless but the answer is always the same; forgive. But how do we that? Our reputation is forever damaged, or the emotional pain of our innocence being ripped away leaves lifelong relationship problems, or the hole left by the missing child feels like it will never heal.
I have really struggled with forgiveness this year and it has left me emotionally and spiritually drained, often leaving me wondering if I will be able to continue this ministry. I’ve been thoroughly stuck in disillusionment and I’ve hated it.
The pain I feel isn’t healed yet by any stretch of the imagination, but I do see the light and this is where I’m headed. My pain stems from a situation where I was accused of things I didn’t do. Sadly I couldn’t prove that and the situation deteriorated to the point that I had to remove myself from it. This rocked my world to the core because I had believed the situation would lead to an immeasurable growth and reach of Jesus Is Knocking. My reputation is damaged and considering what I’m trying to do here, I have been angry and scared. My reputation is pretty much all I have. Was I witnessing the end of Jesus Is Knocking before it ever really began? I wanted vindication and an apology, at least vindication. Here’s what the Father showed me.
What if my vindication came at the cost of the souls of those involved in the situation? Would people going to hell be worth my reputation being restored? Would I be willing to stand there at the Judgment and sentence them to hell because of what they’d done?
No, no I wouldn’t be. The horror of that was too much for me to bear. Even someone like Hitler going to a place so far from Yehovah’s love that they suffer eternal pain makes me flinch, and he deserved it. What was done to me is not worth the eternal fire of hell; and yet I have been acting as though it is. What if I’m not the only one this has happened to? What if they never repent and do it to more people? Then the Judgment will be up to the Judge, but not up to me. I must free them from my judgment so that I am not standing there later cheering on my vindication that sent them to hell. When the Judgment Day comes I want to know that I have forgiven everyone to the best of my ability. I want them to repent, to find forgiveness at the Judgment Seat just like I will. My reputation may be damaged, but what is that compared to eternal suffering? Nothing, nothing at all.
So how do we forgive? Think about hell – the fire, the pain, the constant darkness, the absence of anything good and lovely and true for all of eternity, the never-ending torment. Is what was done to you really bad enough to send a person into that? Are you willing to be the judge that sends this person into it? Is that loving your enemy like Jesus taught us to?
Allow yourself to be horrified by the thought that your enemy might have to endure the eternal torment of hell for the limited amount of time that he or she hurt you. Allow your heart to be softened to pray that your enemy will repent and turn to the Father to learn how to live this life to honor Him. I did and cried for my “enemy.” The pain is still real, but I have truly forgiven and I pray that you can, too. In most personal circumstances, what has been done to us by others is not worth eternal torment. I pray that Yehovah helps you to see that, too.