One of the most gifted writers of our day is Max Lucado. He has churned out book after book with creativity and professionalism. For a while, I read all that he wrote, but eventually I could not keep up with his pace. Of the books I’ve read, my favorite is The Applause of Heaven. Listen to the following excerpt from that book:
Do you have a hole in your heart? Perhaps the wound is old. A parent abused you. A teacher slighted you . . . and you are angry. Or perhaps the wound is fresh. The friend who owes you money just drove by in a new car. The boss who hired you with promises of promotions has forgotten how to pronounce your name. Your circle of friends escaped on a weekend getaway, and you weren’t invited . . . And you are hurt.
Part of you is broken, and the other part is bitter. Part of you wants to cry, and part of you wants to fight. The tears you cry are hot because they come from your heart, and there is a fire burning in your heart. It’s the fire of anger. It’s blazing. It’s consuming. Its flames leap up under a steaming pot of revenge.
And you are left with a decision. “Do I put the fire out or heat it up? Do I get over it or get even? Do I release it or resent it? Do I let my hurts heal, or do I let hurt turn into hate?”
Resentment is the deliberate decision to nurse the offense until it becomes a black, furry, growling grudge . . . Unfaithfulness is wrong. Revenge is bad. But the worst part of all is that, without forgiveness, bitterness is all that is left. (Max Lucado – The Applause of Heaven )
If you’re struggling with hard feelings toward someone . . . if you’re mad, hurt, bitter, or all the above rolled into one, then let it go! Forgive! Do it for their sake! Do it for your sake! Do it for the Lord! Don’t spend the rest of your life without rest in your life. Unforgiveness can slow down or even sidetrack your spiritual growth. Consider a few verses on the subject . . .
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others.” Matthew 6:14 (Msg)
“He said to them, ‘When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’” Luke 11:2-4 (NIV)
How can we forgive those we can’t stomach? The honest truth is we can’t! In our own strength, we are unable to forgive, but with God’s help it is possible. We must humbly turn our feelings and hurts over to God and ask Him to transform them into love and forgiveness. In time, He will change our hearts to match His heart. Pause now and ask God to start the process of healing and forgiveness in your heart.