Last week Christian preached on forgiveness. Hmmm, seems like a pattern since we moved to Uganda! I have admitted it is something I struggle with, and “love your neighbor as yourself”, it is hard to love my neighbor as myself when often times I don’t even like myself. What does that look like? Does that mean every time I see someone I have to hug and kiss them and tell them how much I love them? (Eewww and awkward) There are plenty of people who I would run away from rather than even bless them with my smile. (Mean, I know – remember I am a work in progress and I try to be honest about that.) But is it love if I saw my enemy in the ditch dying I would definitely help him out? Is that enough? Can I forgive the wrongs against me AND separate them from my life? I’m not lying when I say, I struggle with this a lot. Especially here, especially in a culture I don’t understand, probably never will, and being held apart and judged by the color of my skin. (Ironic isn’t it?!)
God never fails to amaze me, you probably think that maybe my faith isn’t what it should be if I am constantly amazed by God. But that is why my faith is so strong – He is always showing His love and care for me in amazing ways. When Christian preached this sermon, we had no idea what was about to happen in our lives. I know it sounds dramatic, but try to imagine being in our situation – everyday is a lesson and learning those lessons alone, being outnumbered can be a constant stress. But God has His way of encouraging us – even before we know how much we are going to need it.
God has forgiven us of all our sins but there is a condition put on that forgiveness – Colossians 3:13 basically says our forgiveness should be the same as God’s forgiveness. How did Christ forgive? What is forgiveness? To forgive others I must remember how He forgave my wickedness, and see them through Christ’s eyes. Not hold their sins against them.
Matthew 6 says “Forgive me as I forgive others.” If I don’t forgive – God won’t forgive me. Now, this doesn’t affect our salvation but our relationship with Him won’t be as it should be. It is about
When someone offends me, I am to put it into His hands and He will take care of them. When I hold on to these things, it is because of pride – it isn’t about me. They are doing wrong to God, because I belong to Him. Help me to be like You, help me to forgive as you have forgiven me. What if God hadn’t forgive me? Where would I be now?
Bitterness festers and causes me to sin, enslaves me but forgiveness looses me the most for I’m the one bound. It’s about compassion – putting myself in their shoes as God showed compassion to me. God has forgiven me because of Christ’s sacrifice for me. When I consider how many times Christ has shown mercy on me I have to pray “Help me have Your mercy for others”.
Now, this is what the message was last Sunday, just before we got information on a big, big problem we are getting ready to face. And to get through this situation it is going to require God’s mercy and grace through us to not make it worse. And to be honest, there is a person I don’t want to show mercy too. I told Christian that I don’t want to have anything to do with him. But, since I am to love, then I would save him from the ditch. But, my husband asked me if I thought he was dying and going to hell would I walk across the street and minister to him? Hmmm. Why must he always be a preacher?! But it did make me think about it. And to be honest, right now, I’m not sure I could do it because I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t receive it. There is going to be people hurt, people confused, and people upset with us. Why? Because one person can’t forgive. Bitterness has taken such a hold in his heart, he will manipulate innocent, naive people to lash out. I do have pity, I do feel sad for him but I am not perfect. I don’t always have control of my mouth, especially when people are taken advantage of. And so, as the saying goes “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. For now I will do my best to not make a bad situation worse. But I know God is working things out on our side, but also on all the other sides. Maybe for me it is to strengthen my character, and grow my faith. For others it may be a hard lesson in listening to wise counsel vs. ungodly counsel. And I know that the one holding bitterness will never have peace until he is able to forgive the wrongs he believes has been done to him.
It is always the same, when everything seems to be looking up, we see God working in mighty ways that the devil wants to tear it all down. It starts with one thing and quickly multiplies. We have been hit from all sides this week – health, our growing church and the hurt of feeling betrayed.
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16
Pray for us this week, Monday will be a rough day. Pray for wisdom – the wisdom in decision making, wisdom in our conversations and the wisdom to know how God wants us to handle things. Pray for God’s Will to be done, not our own. Pray for the farmers, their crops and the harvest. Let nothing hinder all of the hard work they have put into this endeavor, and they will come to recognize God has a plan for each one of them. Pray we have peace and understanding of the plan God has for us personally and for this village. Let us praise Him and seek His kingdom above all things and that He gets the Glory through it all. I leave you with this video about prayer. We know we are helpless but we know the One who is the helper and we know we don’t have to be afraid of what may come. Pray and He will answer. Always.