People that live closest to us seem to have the greatest potential to hurt us. Someone mistreats, annoys, or irritates us. Perhaps it’s what someone didn’t do or say that causes our rights to rise up and protest. When you feel hurt, stop and think.
Anger is not the solution. Neither is lashing out with gossip, withdrawing, taking revenge, or growing bitter. Forgiveness is the better way. As Corrie Ten Boom said, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is the power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”
When the Nazi’s occupied Holland, Corrie Ten Boom’s family hid Jews in their home. Consequently, they were sent to a concentration camp where millions were tortured, raped, and killed. Prison guards stood by mocking, sneering at women’s naked bodies as they shuffled to the showers. Corrie survived, but her sister succumbed to the abuse. Corrie’s hate for one particular guard intensified.
Years later, Corrie returned to Germany for a speaking engagement on forgiveness. The guard Corrie hated was sitting in the church. His face radiant and smiling, he extended his hand saying, “Ah dear sister Corrie, isn't it wonderful how God forgives?”
Rage surged in Corrie. Grief overwhelmed her as memories of all the evil he had done to her and her beloved sister prevailed. Suddenly, the Lord said, “Corrie, put out your hand.” Corrie didn't feel like it, but out of sheer obedience she extended her hand. After that, she testified, “I felt something almost like warm oil being poured over me. And with it came the unmistakable message: ‘Well done, Corrie. That’s how my children behave.’” Since that moment, the hate left her.
Forgiveness doesn't excuse or condone others’ wrong or hurtful actions. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart and my heart.
“See to it that no-one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15). Bitterness infects and poisons you and me and others beyond anything we ever imagined. Bitterness is love’s enemy. But God offers His all sufficient help…His grace and power to forgive.
God knows exactly where to apply His healing grace in our hurting, wounded heart. When we feel hurt, let us cry out for His grace to identify and remove every trace of bitterness.
1. Write down wrong attitudes, actions, and poisonous words which others have used to intentionally or unintentionally hurt you.
2. Verbally, or in writing, prayerfully offer forgiveness to each one, no strings attached.
3. Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart’s hurting places. Allow time to work through your feelings and experience healing. Release your hurts to God (1 Peter 2:21-23). A trusted friend or counselor may assist in this process.
4. Listen for God’s response. Is He speaking Scripture to you? Are you to make amends? Perhaps pray, “Lord, show me how you see this person.”
5. Set free from unforgiveness, now give thanks for God’s mercy and grace. Intentionally fill the empty places in your heart with God’s Word and praise. (John 8:26) God’s grace will flow through you to others, blessing everything and everyone you meet.