Have you been joining me each week for my #online study for #survivors of sexual abuse? If so, welcome back! This week I’m talking about forgiveness. It’s that awful, beautiful, scary, marvelous, challenging and altogether healing part of recovery for anyone who has been deeply wounded.
Let me start us off in prayer:
Precious Savior, we need your help today. This topic is difficult to process from where we sit, and we can’t begin to consider forgiving our offenders without your help. Show us what you want us to take away today, and prepare our hearts to take this needed step towards recovery…not only for our healing but for our forgiveness as well.
I’ll just say it, since we’ve all thought it at some point…forgiving our offenders doesn’t seem very fair, does it? It feels like we are letting them off the hook. There they are, set free to go on with their happy little lives, while we’re here still recovering from the damage they’ve done!
It just doesn’t seem right, does it? But, forgiveness is the best medicine for the wounds to our soul. I can assure you that, apart from accepting Jesus Christ in our hearts, it is the best thing we can do for own healing as survivors of sexual abuse.
God wants us to forgive others, as we have been forgiven. He doesn’t specify who those “others” are, either. We don’t get to choose who or what is forgivable (sexual abusers included), because God makes it clear that forgiveness for our sins (any and all) hinges on our willingness to forgive others when they sin against us.
Matthew 6:14 tells us that, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly father will also forgive you.” Colossians 13:13 echoes this command. It says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (NLT)
If you’re like me, you have some questions, like – What about victims of sexual violence…do they have to forgive their offender? Doesn’t God care about what they did to us? Doesn’t he see the pain they caused and the damage they have done? Is it fair for him to ask this of us?
The simple answer is yes, yes, yes, and yes…and here is why:
God knows what happened and it breaks his heart. He sees our pain and he grieves our stories with us. But, he tells us to forgive others so that we can be forgiven, and because we’ve been forgiven.
We’ve made our own mistakes, we’ve sinned against God at different times in our lives…we needed his mercy and he extended his mercy to us, freely. We are to do the same with others (all others). When we do we release ourselves from the bondage of bitterness, which can and will set root in our lives if we let it – causing all sorts of problems for us relationally, spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.
When we don’t forgive others for their offenses against us, we suffer. It’s is like poison to the soul. It will eat away at us and keep us in the problem. When we choose to forgive others, we set ourselves free from the hold they have on us and we open the door for God to do His redeeming in our lives.
Friend, we don’t get to be judge and jury…which is probably best for everyone involved! God loves us, and he loves our offender. He paid for all our sins by the blood sacrifice of his only Son, Jesus, and he desires for us all to find our way home in him.
Is there someone in your life today that you still need to forgive?
I urge you to ask God to reveal any unforgiveness in your heart. Ask him to help you in this process. It will take time, and there are stages of forgiveness involved, but God is patient and loving, and he will show you the way if you ask.
He has helped me to forgive the abusers in my story. It took time, and there were stages involved for me, but when I reached the point where I knew I truly forgave, I was finally free from the hold they had on me. God has given me beauty for ashes. He has redeemed my story in such a beautiful way, and I know he will do the same for you.
Forgiveness is the right choice, and it is the best medicine for a wounded soul.
Let me close our time in this prayer for you, sweet friend:
Abba Father, I know you see her wounds and you know her story. You understand the hurt she is feeling inside, and the burdens she has carried for so long. I pray that you will surround her today with your loving presence…that you will speak to her heart and show her where she needs to let go and surrender her wounds to you. You are a just God that loves justice. You will set things right on her behalf, in your time and in your perfect way. I pray that you assure her of that today. Give her a peace that passes all knowledge, and the wisdom to choose forgiveness. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
I look forward to coming together again next week. We’ll be taking a closer look at what the Bible says about God’s role in your story, and his perfect plans for your life. I can’t wait to reconnect then!
All my best,