Thursday, June 13, 2013

Letting Go of the Wrong: How Do I Live with Forgiveness?

"ViNDiCATE ME, O God, and DEFEND my cause
against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
Now a practical application of the abstract in regards to what I discussed last time in the series on Letting Go of the Wrong that was Done to Me, and an attempt to answer the question, "How do I live with forgiveness when, because of what that person did, I can barely live at all?"

Start this very second by changing your daily prayer from, "Punish him," to "Vindicate me." But know that vindication doesn't necessarily mean to make what happened to you happen to that person. And it doesn't mean that person who wronged you will necessarily have as much trouble learning how to live with what he did to you as you do.

Vindication & vengeance are two different words conveying two different ideas. One belongs to us, the other to God, and both are actions taken by Him on our behalf (Romans 12:19).

Praying for VINDICATION means that you are asking for what happened to be made right, for someone to make up for it. And that someone was Jesus. He cried for you. He suffered for you. He died for you. He's immensely sorry that your life has to be this hard, and He promises it won't last forever.

Praying for VINDICATION also means asking God to change this person's heart so that when this person who's wronged you meets Jesus on his deathbed, or preferably beforehand, he will finally know exactly what he did. He will finally understand the suffering he caused you, and the suffering he caused our Lord, his Savior. He will feel it, and he will regret it. And he will kneel down in front of our Lord, and he will weep for what he did to you, and he will beg for forgiveness.

Whether you desire to withhold forgiveness at that point
or not doesn't matter. At least not for him.

Should this person instead reject Christ and His mercy, which is also our freedom (Mark 16:14-20), he will be rejected by Christ in return and judged according to his own deeds (John 12:48). The situation then becomes a matter of vengeance on the Lord's part. If someone has wronged us badly enough, the picture of them in hell may be a tempting one, but we cannot in honest, good faith ever pray that anyone would reject Christ without mocking the sacrifice Christ made for the world and putting our own salvation in serious jeopardy (Luke 9:51-56; 1 Timothy 2:1-7Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 10:13-16).

Next, adding to that same prayer, ask God for the peace that you know you so desperately need. Real peace won't come by any amount of effort you put into "working through" what's happened to you. "Working through it," though I am unsure of exactly what that means, is important, don't get me wrong. I assume it has something to do with the ability to face the incident and its ramifications, helping us to "come to terms" with our lives as they are now, to "accept it," which eventually aids us in the ever-present goal of "moving on." These things are good, but they are not sufficient.
Remember, Christianity is not therapy.

Real peace comes from God alone. Like forgiveness, it's a gift that can be received regardless of the circumstances around us. It's peace that doesn't come from no longer focusing on ourselves, our afflictions, or our enemies, but that allows us the freedom to not focus on those things: a necessary result of real forgiveness.

If in all honesty you're not ready to let go of that desire for an eye for eye, let God know that, too, even if your prayer is, "So help me, God, I want them dead." BUT -- and I have never been more serious in my life -- you must admit that your heart needs to be changed. No one expects you to do it alone. Ask God to change that heart of yours for your own sake, not for the sake of the one who wronged you. Immerse yourself in God's Word, read the Bible, go to church, talk to your pastor.

Why go to all this trouble to rid yourself of a feeling that feels perfectly justified? Because there is more at stake for you
than you might realize.

We don't have to come up with the words that reflect a change in our hearts ourselves. Here are some ready-made Prayers for Vindication straight from God's lips to your ears: Psalm 35Psalm 43Psalm 54Psalm 135. And here are some Passages on Peace you may find helpful when peace is nowhere in sight: Philippians 4:4-9; John 14:15-31; 2 Corinthians 4:7-18; Romans 8:18-30.

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