Tag Archives: unbelief

Forgiving Myself

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.   Psalm 103:8-12

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m in a class at Celebrate Recovery through which the Lord has challenged me to let go of my resentments.  To do this, I made a list of the resentments that I still carry – some big ones, quite a lot of smaller ones.  Now I’m working my way through the list as I forgive each person who has hurt me.

Do you know who’s been the hardest person on the list for me to forgive?  Like, by far?

Me.

I have done some awful things over the course of my life, some by accident and some not.  I have brought hurt and pain onto myself with some of those actions and choices, but what’s much worse from my perspective is that I have caused harm and pain to others.  In looking back at many situations, I now feel like I should have known and done better, and I’m ashamed.  I find myself asking how I could possibly forgive myself.

As I asked trusted people for prayer as I go over this territory, it was mentioned by no fewer than three people that they struggle with forgiving themselves also.  I felt like the Lord was speaking to me about the prevalence of this problem among Christians.

So how do we forgive ourselves?  Well, I’m no expert, but here are some things that I’m learning as I go through this process.

First, I have to acknowledge my emotions about what happened.  I’m sometimes the queen of denial, stuffing feelings down deep.  These stuffed feelings keep bubbling to the surface, bringing the old memories back with them and making it hard for me to forgive myself.  When I acknowledge my feelings about what I did, I take ownership of my emotions and they no longer control me.

Second, I remember that I am fully and completely forgiven by Jesus for everything I have ever done, thought or said that was not in alignment with His will and His character.  It doesn’t matter if what was done happened before or after I came to know Him – I am fully forgiven.  Jeremiah 31:34 says that He remembers my sins no more.  That is, He doesn’t hold them over my head or throw them in my face in a shaming way.  If He has so fully forgiven me, who am I to argue with Him?  Because of the grace I have received from Him, I can give some of that grace to myself.

Third, I think what advice I would give to a brother or sister in Christ if they came to me for help because they were struggling over something they had done.  Would I suggest that they beat themselves up some more because what they did was really horrendous?  Of course not!  I would remind them of the grace that is ours in Christ Jesus.  Therefore, I choose to follow that same advice and give that same reminder of grace to myself.

Fourth, I ask myself if I still owe anybody an amends for something that is still bothering me.  I get the advice of a strong, mature, trusted brother or sister in Christ before making an amends to someone.  I want to make sure that my motives are right, and I don’t want to cause the person that I previously hurt any additional pain by reaching out to them again.  In some cases, it may not be safe or appropriate for me to make an amends to someone, so I must talk it over first with that trusted person.  However, after doing that, making an appropriate amends is a good way to help me forgive myself.

Fifth, I ask myself what I can learn from my past mistakes.  Have I grown as a result of what happened?  Is my step of growth in the forgiveness of myself or in the making of amends?

Finally, the Lord showed me that to not forgive myself is to say that Christ’s death on the cross was not enough to pay for all of my sins, and that is utterly false.  When I don’t forgive myself, I’m saying that I have a better way of paying for my sins than what Christ offers.  This is unbelief and it represents the height of a prideful attitude.  It is time for me to get on my knees and repent of (turn away from) these deadly sins!

If any of this has resonated with you, too, would you like to pray with me today?

Lord Jesus, we come to You for help in learning to forgive ourselves.  Forgive us for our sins of unbelief and of pride.  Help us to receive Your forgiveness for the wrongs that we have done; wash us clean of them.  Bring the freedom and peace that comes from knowing we are forgiven for ALL wrongs, big or small.  Wash away our guilt as we confess our sins to You.  Please help us to make amends in a way that is appropriate, and help us to learn from those mistakes and not make them again.  Thank You, Lord, that You have removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west and that You remember our sins no more.  We love you and ask these things in the name of Jesus.  Amen.   

 

 

 

 

Praising God for the Trials

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  Romans 5:3 (NLT)

I have not one, not two, but several major trials going on in my life simultaneously.  They have been going on for long periods of time and I’ve been a bit overwhelmed by them at times.  I do not say this in order to have a pity party for myself or to try to evoke your sympathy; it’s just the fact of my current circumstances.  While I am quite familiar with the above verse, I have never rejoiced at the onset of a trial, or in the middle of one.  I rejoice when they’re done.  Anybody with me on that?

This past weekend, I thought the opportunity would arise for a big turning point for the better in two of the trials that I face, so I cued up some trustworthy friends to be praying for that specifically throughout the weekend.  However, by the end of the weekend it was clear that these trials aren’t changing any time soon, much less going away.  I ended up baring my heart through tears to the Lord, letting Him know how much it hurt but asking Him for His perspective.  He finally asked me a question:  Will you believe I’m at work in these situations even when you don’t see any evidence of it?

His question coalesced with the other work He’s been doing in me.  Through various means, the Lord has recently been prompting me to examine the state of my faith.  I thought my faith was pretty strong; faith is actually one of my spiritual gifts.  However, the Lord pointed out to me that although I KNOW the truth of His word (I have it memorized), I don’t always BELIEVE His word (apply it to my own life).

Ouch!  He was right.  He showed me that while I have no problem believing that His word is true for other people, I have not believed that it’s true for me also.  I haven’t dared to hope that it could be true for me and that He would work in miraculous ways in my life as well as in the lives of those around me.

So here I was, at a crossroads.  I was faced with choosing to continue in my unbelief or to change paths and start to believe that His word is true for me as well as for you.  It felt like a big risk to believe that I could have the hope of all of His promises for myself.  However, the decision was an easy one – I chose to believe Him.  I repented for my unbelief and chose hope instead.  This was equivalent to a tectonic plate shifting in my heart.  Wow!

My first request of the Lord was for Him to give me joy in spite of my circumstances.  I cannot manufacture joy in my life even when things are going well, and I certainly couldn’t do it in the face of the trials.  It had to come from Him or not come at all.

It didn’t come immediately.  I had to push through a lot of garbage and lies from the enemy by continually affirming that I trusted Jesus and Jesus alone and affirming that His word is true for me.  I reminded the Lord of His promise to give us joy and of His Romans 5:3 promise that we can rejoice in the middle of trials.  It felt like re-programming my 54 year old heart to believe differently.  Soon, the joy came.

There is still no end in sight to my trials.  They might rage on for several more days, weeks, months or even years for all I know.  What I know is that my heart would not have been changed without the simultaneous onslaught of these trials.  I have learned not just to praise God IN my storms but to actually praise Him FOR the storms.  What a blessing!

Friends, if you find yourself facing problems and trials today, here are some things that will be crucial to navigating them with a soft heart towards God:

  1. Get people praying for you and with you in the middle of it.  Don’t just say, “I’m going through a hard time,” but let yourself be known!  I cannot overemphasize how important this is.  Doing life in community MATTERS.  Prayer MATTERS.
  2. BELIEVE God.  The word “believe” is a verb; it denotes action.  Put your trust in Jesus and Jesus alone.  Don’t tough it out and grit your teeth until you get through it – trust that He will bring you through and also that He has your very best in mind.
  3. Praise God.  Praising Him for Who He is takes your eyes off yourself and puts them squarely on Him, where they belong.  Ask Him to help you praise Him FOR the storm – He will do it!
  4. Ask God for everything that you need.  No, I don’t mean that you need your problem or trial to end.  I mean, do you need more joy while you’re in the storm?  More endurance?  More strength?  More wisdom?  Ask Him – He is eager to answer.

Let me know if I can be praying for you too.  Comment below or send me a private message if you prefer.  We can be on this journey together.  🙂