“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His loving-kindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him” Psalm 103:11,12,13
During the Jewish New Year the The Ten Days Of Repentance (10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) unfolds: On Rosh Hashanah God “‘opens’ the ‘books’ of judgment” of creation and all mankind starting from each individual person, and in those books it is first “written” what will be decreed, hence the emphasis on the “ketivah” (“writing”). The “judgement” is then “pending” and prayers and repentance are required. Then on Yom Kippur, the judgment is “sealed” or confirmed (i.e. by the Heavenly Court), hence the emphasis is on the word “chatimah” (“sealed”).
During this time it is said we should ask forgiveness of anyone whom we have hurt or offended during the last year. In light of that I wanted to blog about those situations in which we ask forgiveness of someone(s) who refuse to forgive us. For many of us who have turned our lives around it becomes painfully true that even though God forgives us, often time’s family and friends do not.
I once counseled a person who was extremely sad that He had been cut out of the lives of his grown children.
When he was younger and the children were small he had a sexual addiction. He had one affair after the other. He hid most of them from his ex-wife. She often would accuse him of marital infidelity but she had no proof. It was just those “feelings” women and men get when a spouse is cheating.
Most of the times the affairs meant nothing, but then one day he fell hopelessly in love with one of the women he was sleeping with on the side. He decided he had to be with the woman who lived across the country. After quitting his job the man went home, while his wife was at work, and he packed a bag and left and never looked back.
He left not only financial ruin but also broken hearts, because of his selfish and compulsive behavior.
The situation did not end well. His girlfriend was into drugs and abused alcohol. He started doing the same. They both threw good sense out of the window, and before they knew it they were both living off the welfare system and selling drugs to support their habit.
In the same way the man had left his wife, his girlfriend left him. He got in trouble with the law and ended up doing prison time.
While in prison he reached rock bottom and when some folks from a prison ministry came to visit, he committed his life to Christ and repented of his sins.
He got out of prison, got his life back together and met and married a Christian woman whom he had met at his church.
As God led this man through deep repentance of his past sins, he began to realize how much his earlier actions had hurt his children. They are all grown now and he decided he wanted to contact them and ask forgiveness for abandoning them. He knew that God had forgiven and restored him and he was hopeful his children would too.
Well, as you might imagine not only were these adult children not happy to hear from him, a couple of them told him they never wished to hear from him again and if he did call they would get a restraining order against him.
The man was crushed and in a deep depression when he reached out for spiritual counseling.
The good news is that God ALWAYS forgives us. He removes our sins from his mind. He never holds our past sins, once repented of, against us.
The bad news is that we may have hurt people in our lives by our self-centered, dysfunctional actions of the past. Those people should be able to forgive us, but often times they won’t and they don’t.
The man was going through terrible times of not being able to forgive himself for his past. The fact that he now has no relationship with his children is no one’s fault but his own and he knows that. He had been unable to come to terms with that. Day and night Satan would come to him with all sorts of taunting words. “You are the worst father in the world,” Satan would tell him. “You are a pathetic human being, you should have killed yourself, and you still should.” These words would bombard him in the car, in the shower, at night when he tried to pray and it was wearing the man down.
You too may have people in your life that you hurt. Now you are living for the Lord and yet they still refuse to speak to you. They may still talk behind your back, and they may still tell people you “are crazy” or whatever.
Beloved you cannot make anyone forgive you. It may take years of them seeing your changed behavior to believe you have truly changed.
But you cannot let your past define you. You are not who people say you are, but you are who GOD says you are. You are His beloved child, and in His eyes you are perfect.
I am not going to tell you that it doesn’t hurt to be left out of family members lives, because the truth is just the opposite. It does hurt, but healing starts when you realize that you have done the best you can. You are a forgiven child of God, and you will live with Him for eternity.
Your best bet is to pray that those who treat you terribly and have refused to forgive you will come to know Him as their personal savior. Then, they will understand unconditional love.
Other then that we often have to face the facts that we can do nothing about the forgiveness others refuse to grant us. It is not good to continually grieve over the situation. Satan often uses that grief as an excuse to heap condemnation on the believer. If we give him a foothold, through self-pity, he will bombard our minds constantly with thoughts about what bad people we are.
If that is happening to you it’s time to get up and fight the devil, by commanding him to keep quiet and leave you alone. Then we make a conscious effort to but our minds elsewhere and give our sorrow to God.
God has promised restoration of families. God will work things out in His timing, not ours. In the meantime we must go on cheerfully, making the best of our day and refusing to wallow in self-pity.
We are commanded to forgive others and so we do so, leaving their acceptance of our forgiveness in the hands of God.
Hold your head high, and walk forward. You cannot change the past, but you can make your future whatever you want it to be.
In His Unconditional Love,