I love God’s sense of humor in His leading in my life. I woke this morning fully intent on writing about 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” But by the time I sat down for my devotions on that passage, God had other plans for me today. My mind messed up, and instead I read 2 Corinthians 2:3-4, and ended up reading 2:1-11. I don’t remember this story of Paul’s life.
A little background from my study notes: Paul was grieved by a previous visit to the Corinthians. Paul severely rebuked the church. It sounds like there was a specific person who caused both Paul and the church considerable pain. Paul didn’t want to cause more pain by another visit, so he wrote a strong letter to them. After reading several translations, it appears the person who caused the difficulties had repented and had been punished sufficiently. Paul was encouraging the believers to now come along beside him, forgive him and comfort him. First, because otherwise the person could be overwhelmed by sorrow. Second, by forgiving the person, it takes Satan out of the situation. It doesn’t give him any victory or an opportunity to continue to tear apart God’s kingdom. Third, forgiveness heals not only the offender, but also the offended.
Boy do I need that perspective some days!
God has blessed me recently to see the beginning of a relationship rebuilding following a deep hurt by a close friend. It took time and prayer. It took intentionally focusing on the love God’s has for him. I had to once again see the person as loved, cherished, and cared for by God in order to begin to forgive. I had to remember the many good things my friend had done. After a time, God began melting the hardness in my heart and mending the hurt. My friend did something that hurt many people and is spending some time in prison because of it. God began to weigh heavily on my heart that I needed to show him the love God has shown me. I began journaling and praying my hurts to God. Then I began with a card of prayers for him as he faced an uncertain future. I was blessed to receive a heartfelt and sincere letter of apology. Healing continues. I recently wrote him as we would have talked in the past. God again blessed me with a letter back from him, talking of his life right now and some of the ways God was working in him and his love for his family.
God’s grace is freely given for us all. We need to reach out to others with that cleansing grace. God has blessed me greatly through the process of forgiveness with my friend. I’ve read several books by Louis B. Smedes on forgiveness in the past. One thing I remember from Smedes is – “Forgiveness isn’t for the other person, it’s for you.” Smedes says, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” That seems all the more important to me these days as I think what life in prison must be like for my friend, and I pray for him and his family.
You will know that forgiveness has begun, when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well. – Lewis B. Smedes. Praising God for His guiding, healing and wonderful grace poured out for each one of us.
Praying you may enjoy the abundant blessing of God’s amazing grace today ~ Faye