How Can Even God Forgive That…?
I don’t know if you have ever been faced with a situation where you just felt that “God can’t even forgive what that person had done!” Well, unfortunately I have. Not that God couldn’t forgive – I just didn’t think I wanted Him to forgive the person. (I am ashamed to admit it; but I really did feel that way.)
I have had the privilege of ministering in numerous capacities. One of my greatest blessings was being able to serve as a Law Enforcement and as a Community Chaplain. As a chaplain you see many devastating situations; and are called upon to minister to people at possibly their greatest point of need. I could not even tell you how many death notifications I have done: everything from death by natural causes; to accidents; to suicides and homicides. There was one chaplaincy call that showed me my own personal limitations and shined a light on areas where I still needed to grow in the Lord….
I was called to a scene where two little girls had been murdered. There had been quite a struggle and, as you can imagine, the scene was horrific. The person who committed the crime was their mother. As a chaplain, I would try to support Law Enforcement in any way I could and would try to comply with any request they made. Along with doing death notifications to other family members, I was asked to see if I could get the mother to release the girls’ bodies. Even though the mother had committed the crime, she still had legal right over the children’s remains. The only other option to this would have been through a court proceeding.
Though in police custody, the mother had been taken to the hospital and I met her there. When I entered the room, I had to fight back my own intense emotions. When I saw her lying there, with the children’s blood literally still on her hands, I did not see her as someone in need of the Lord or one worthy of any compassion. I only saw her as the perpetrator who killed those kids. As I began to speak to her, the Holy Spirit led me to just listen. She cried out her story of desperation and despair; and stressed how she hated the fact that she was still alive. Though she quickly gave permission to release the bodies, she asked if she could talk with me some more. May the Lord forgive me, but I really did not want to speak with her- I felt I had heard enough. All I could think about were two dead girls; the funerals I would soon be helping to facilitate; and other family members who were starting to drive in. But thanks be to God, the Holy Spirit arrested me. He, again, led me to just listen. After telling me her story, she asked me if God could forgive even her. I told her “Yes” and we left it at that. That is when the Holy Spirit began to convict me of my judgmental attitude. How dare I ever assume someone is too far gone for redemption! There is only one judge and it sure isn’t me. I sincerely asked forgiveness and went on to help with the memorial for the girls.
A few days later I received a call from the jail. The mom wanted to see me. My first thought? I would like to say that it was to happily minister to her. It wasn’t. My first thought was what people would think. The news was all over this, and I sure didn’t want to be seen as some “minister” who was helping a child killer! (It grieves me that my attitude was so awful!) Again, the Holy Spirit began to deal with me. I went to the jail and ministered to her one on one-praying with her on more than one occasion. During one of these visits she accepted the Lord as her personal Savior. She began asking me many things about God; asking me if her daughters could ever forgive her; and what heaven would be like. I would visit with her as often as I could, until she was taken out of local custody.
So what’s my point? My point is FORGIVENESS is a big issue! Un-forgiveness will kill us! It can kill us Spiritually, Emotionally, and even Physically. No matter what you or anyone else has ever done, you are not beyond redemption; you are not unforgivable! AND with the Lord’s help, there is nothing we cannot forgive, absolutely NOTHING! God can give us the ability to let go of all past hurts and all those who have hurt us!
Some key points concerning forgiveness:
- You may not think so, but often the hardest person to forgive is the man in the mirror! The Enemy of our souls loves to remind us of our past; remind us of all our failures. We can become so angry at ourselves that we don’t even want to be forgiven. We somehow believe that forgiveness is for others, but have a hard time accepting that forgiveness is for us as well. Well, the Good News is that forgiveness reigns for each and every one of us! I don’t care what we have done, or haven’t done; I don’t care how many times we have failed… God’s forgiveness is there for us to receive.
- An important truth to realize is that forgiveness is more for us than the person we are forgiving. Until we choose (and forgiveness is a choice) to forgive, we are still tied to that person and that event. God wants us to forgive so we can walk in the freedom he has for us.
- An important truth to keep in mind is that forgiveness does not mean you are condoning the other person’s actions. It does not mean you are to go back and continue to allow someone to walk on you. Some people are afraid to forgive because they think it will give the other person license to continue to abuse them. That is not what forgiveness is about.
- Worrying about what people think can play into un-forgiveness. Our concern over what others think can cause us to not want to let go of our pride. Often times worrying about someone “getting one up on us” can hinder our being able to let go of the situation.
- One could write volumes on the subject of forgiveness, but I just want to leave you with one final thought-and it is about “thoughts”. If we are to forgive, we must guard our thoughts. We must actively counter negative thoughts with Scriptural truth – countering the negative voices with God’s truth about love and forgiveness.