Mine is to Forgive

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

I have been young, and now am old,
    yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
    or his children begging for bread.
He is ever lending generously,
    and his children become a blessing.

Turn away from evil and do good;
    so shall you dwell forever.
For the Lord loves justice;
    he will not forsake his saints.

The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
    he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
The Lord helps them and delivers them;
    he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
    because they take refuge in him.

Psalm 37:1-9, 25-28, 39-40

I was listening to a friend’s podcast recently about forgiveness. I didn’t want to listen to the podcast, but I did. And as I was listening to it, I felt convicted. I didn’t want to forgive.

Forgiveness does not come easy to me. It is a personal struggle of mine, and I know it. I keep a record of wrongs. But specifically, I have held onto bitterness towards a group of people that have deeply wronged my family and dear friends of mine. I have known that I should forgive them. My spirit has wanted to forgive them. But my flesh wanted justice. I wanted them to hurt as we had been hurt.

These past months, almost a year now, have been full of anger, sadness, and depression. They have been full of fretting and anxiety. But I have noticed something over the past two months. Things have been different. Yes, there were bright moments in the past year, but now things feel different. There is a lightness to my heart, a joy again. And I have come to realize I am not so angry anymore. Yes, I am disgusted. But I feel less of my desire to hold onto my anger. It spikes its ugly head, but it doesn’t hold its sway.

These several months have been a period of grieving, something I have discussed before. A life we’d planned had died. Our future was unknown. We’d been deeply hurt. And I think I made that healing process a little bit harder because of my unwillingness to forgive. Fretting does only lead to evil, and wrath brings only more heartache. But God kept putting these verses on forgiveness in my face. Verses on waiting on the Lord, trusting in Him. (Even as I am writing this and getting distracted, more verses on mercy are showing up.) Then there was my friend’s podcast on forgiveness, and that night I read Luke 17. Truly, there are no coincidences.

And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin. Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

Luke 17:1-6

Oh Lord, increase my faith.

I did not want to hear that podcast that day. In my head, I said, “Why are you telling me this? Just let me be angry!” Why must I be the first to forgive when they do not see the wrong they have done? But I listened and was convicted, for such had Christ done for me.

I have been forgiven of so much. Of what I have done and of what I have left undone. Of what I have said and left unsaid. Of not loving Him with my whole heart. Of not loving my neighbor as myself. I justly deserve a present and eternal punishment. But for the sake of Jesus, God has had mercy on me. I have been forgiven! How could I not forgive this great wrong that in light of my salvation seems so small?

What’s more, the Lord has cared for us. I included Psalm 37 at the top for several reasons. It has been on mind for months, and I continually come back to it. During this time, my children have never wanted for food. Our cares have been attended to. When crises popped up, they were remedied. The Lord has provided even before we thought to ask. How can I not be grateful for this time we have been blessed with?

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Colossians 3:12-14

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 

Romans 12:18-19

Oh, I did not want to forgive. A part of me is still angry, perhaps always will be. But vengeance is not mine. My hand is not the hand of justice. I have not been called to live a life of bitterness. Forgiveness is mine, it is mine to be wronged and not seek vengeance. It is mine to show mercy and love, to live peaceably. It is mine to forgive as I have been forgiven. I have been called to be humble and patient and forgiving. The Lord will deal justly with those who have wronged. We are to delight ourselves in the Lord, not our fleshly desires. God will not forsake His children, so let us wait patiently for Him.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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