Choosing to Forgive
Last week, a friend of mine, a precious older godly lady, attended the trial of the man who killed her husband. Four years ago, her beloved’s life was snuffed out by this drunk driver.
Finally, she would have the chance to speak with him face to face. She had come to peace with God’s sovereign choice to take her husband home when He did. She just wanted to tell the man that she forgave him. At the end of the trial, he was sentenced to 15 years without parole … and she got the opportunity to let him know that he was forgiven.
After prayer meeting, she wanted to tell David and me some things that she was thankful for in the middle of this trial. I just had to relate these to you!
- She was so very thankful that her husband died instantaneously;
- She was thankful that he knew the Lord as his personal Savior; he was ready for death and ready to meet the Lord;
- The morning of his accident, he had forgotten his car keys, so he rang the front doorbell and my friend quickly grabbed the keys on the counter knowing exactly what was going on. She handed him the keys, and while he normally would have grabbed them and hurried off, for some reason, he stopped and gave her a sweet kiss. She didn’t know it was their last one, but later she saw that it was a gift from God.
th(i)nkful – Overcoming Evil with Good
Life (and the sovereign God behind it) will bring opportunities for us to choose to overcome evil with good, darkness with light. Romans 12:17-21 talks about what to do when we are served evil. Verse 21 says to not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good.
Joseph told his brothers who sold him into slavery, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). When we can see a sovereign God weaving His perfect purposes behind all of the damage others may do to us, we feel compelled to join Him in the good He is accomplishing through it.
One of the ways we can overcome evil with good is to exercise being th(i)nkful. Just like what my friend was doing during the trial. The facts of what happened in the accident were hard to hear again, but she saw God’s fingerprints and mentally searched for things to be thankful for.
This is not easy to do. It is difficult, but it is possible. Perhaps in the beginning it will only be tiny baby steps of expressing th(i)nkfulness. Little by little, discovering things to think thanks about will surface, and as we express those things, we overcome the darkness with light.
Spiritual Truth in the Eclipse
The solar eclipse coming across the U.S. on August 21, 2017 illustrates this perfectly. Believing scientists tell us (watch the video “Privileged Planet” – at 27 minutes in) that although the sun is 400x larger than the moon, God placed the moon at the perfect distance (400x closer) so that, during the totality when they examine the corona, they can detect the types of gases burning in the sun and learn about solar winds – things only possible in a total eclipse.
The spiritual truth is that when God’s face is eclipsed by the harshness of life, 1) the darkness is temporary and the light will return, and 2) if we study the situation, we will find that there are things about God we can only learn during the darkness of such an eclipse.
- “The first thing that you have to do if you’re going to forgive a person is to receive the grace of God. Until you receive grace from God, and His forgiveness of you, you will not be in a position to forgive somebody else.
- The second thing? Acknowledge the wrong. Name it, whatever it was. Name it in the presence of Christ. Be straightforward with Him.
- Number three, lay down all your rights. Forgiveness is the unconditional laying down of the self.
- And now, number four? . . .If that person asks forgiveness, forgive. . . if he does not. . .forgive him anyway in a private transaction with God. Ask for grace to treat that person as if nothing had ever happened. Stand with Christ for him.”
Elisabeth Elliot (after her husband was killed by Auca Indians)