Grief When Change Isn’t Possible
Chapter Two, Part Four
The Art of Forgiveness
John 16:33 ESV
Acts 1:8 NKJV
While we grieve because of changes, there are times we grieve when change does not happen no matter how much we pray. The bottom line is that there simply are situations when we have to forgive when change is not possible.
Jesus told His disciples, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Jesus knew what was coming. He knew what would happen to every disciple. He also knew that God ultimately would use all of the bad for good.
The Apostle Paul put it best when he wrote in Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Jesus knew all of the trials and tribulations they would suffer after He left this world would be used for good.
And they were.
They GREW the kingdom. Everything the Romans did to kill the Gospel message only fueled it.
It made the disciples stronger.
It became their badge of honor.
Before Jesus ascended, He said in Acts 1:8, “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jesus knew many would scatter.
Many followers went to Asia, Europe, and Africa and the message of Jesus was taken to other parts of the world.
Jesus gave all who believed the power of the Holy Spirit. Some were martyred under Nero’s rule and others were led by the Spirit to leave the Holy Land and carry the message of the gospel to other parts of the world.
The early Christians who were martyred (and those who loved the saints who were martyred) had to forgive the Romans for what they did.
They had to forgive Nero for His reign of terror. Many others who had to flee their homeland had to forgive Nero and the Roman soldiers who persecuted them. Remember, they didn’t break any laws. They didn’t cause trouble for the Roman government. They were kind and loving. Their crime was following Jesus.
Still, God caused everything to work together for good (Romans 8:28) and they had to forgive every atrocity done to them, done to their wives, done to their children. Since women and children were not important in 1st Century Palestine (they were lower than cattle), the Roman soldiers could do anything to them they wanted to do.
Through it all, change was not possible.
Fast forward to 1939. Hitler had to be forgiven by Jews and Christians. Corrie Ten Boom, her father Casper Ten Boom, and her sister Betsie were followers of Jesus who lived in the Netherlands. They sheltered their Jewish neighbors during World War II. Eventually they were caught and sent to concentration camps. Casper and Betsie were both killed by the Nazi’s. Corrie was the only survivor. In her book, Tramp for the Lord, Corrie told the story of an event that happened years after the war.
Long after Corrie Ten Boom’s sister Betsie was killed in a concentration camp, when Corrie was speaking about her time spent in a concentration camp, the guard who participated in her execution came to ask her to forgive him. She forgave him immediately. It wasn’t easy to forgive him, but Corrie knew it was what Jesus told his disciples to do.
When I first read Corrie’s book in the 1970’s I wept. I knew I had to forgive anyone of anything because that’s what Jesus would have me do. I also knew I didn’t have that kind of love and strength, so I prayed. I surrendered to God and I asked that the Spirit would give me what I needed to have in order to forgive.
Even today, when I struggle to forgive someone for something they did, I think of Corrie forgiving that German guard for killing her sister.
We are called.
We are called to forgive.
We are given the power of the Spirit of the Living God so we can say, I forgive you.
It’s not a feeling.
It’s a choice.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Forgive
Ask God to give you the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive the unforgivable.
In God, Deborah