Easter season holds special significance to me. Several life changing events have occurred over the years, which continue to draw my heart to God in the weeks prior to Resurrection Day. My focus this year has been the words Christ spoke in Luke 23:34, interceding on behalf of those who crucified Him. While this is not my story, it parallels a long struggle I have fought with rejection and forgiveness. God gave this to me for someone. As we approach Holy Week, I post with the hope these words minister to your soul. With love…Beth
The alarm sounded, breaking the silence of another restless night of sleep.
She pulled the blinds, greeted by dark skies and steady rain. Perfect, she thought. Gloomy weather to match my mood. A quick glance at the calendar reminded her it was Good Friday. A day she had once treasured. A quiet and reflective time, marked with humility and gratitude for the sacrifice made and sins pardoned.
But not this Easter season. Unforgiveness was her new comfort zone. Strangely, dark pain had become her preferred companion. At least she knew what to expect.
Living back in the light was a risk she was not willing to take.
Betrayal in any form hurts. But when it comes from the one who vowed to honor and protect and cherish you, well…that line between love and hate becomes a slim, frayed thread. Passion had turned to an icy numbing of her heart.
Her friends had plenty of advice, too.
“If I were you I would…”
“It’s not your fault and no one would blame you if you decided to…”
“The same thing happened to so-and-so and…”
“I know a good lawyer…”
First came the anger. Out-of-body rage, foreign to her normally even-tempered nature. Sharp words, designed to cut like a serrated edge dagger, hurled his way. But in time, the fury gave way to indifference. Not just toward him, but everything. Family. Job. Hobbies.
How did this happen to them, a faithful couple who wanted to follow Jesus? It wasn’t like he woke up one morning and decided to break his vows and shatter her heart. But one unguarded moment led to another and here they were. He begged for a second chance. God had broken him, he said. He loved her and promised to be the man of God she needed, wanted him to be. If she would just let him back in.
Everything in her wanted to run.
But there is no escaping the Holy Spirit and God’s relentless pursuit of her heart. He would whisper, gently reminding her of the vows she made, too. Ones not conditional on her husband’s behavior, but upon her obedience to Christ.
She couldn’t remember the last time she opened her Bible. But on that most sacred of mornings, she did. Tearfully, she turned to their wedding passage.
Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy.
It does not boast.
It is not proud. It does not dishonor others.
It is not self-seeking.
It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects.
(I Corinthians 13:4-7)
Words once lovely now so hard to live.
How, God? How can I even begin to want a heart to love like that again?
Even as she asked, she knew. Because love is the heart of this holy day. She needed to forgive. As Christ had done for her.
Christ, who knew that pain of betrayal and rejection and public humiliation. And He had a choice, too.
Choosing, in the moment of the greatest, most historic grief ever recorded, to ask the Heavenly Father to forgive the very ones who mocked and tortured and crucified Him.
In that moment, at the most excruciating point of agony, His voice touched heaven on their behalf. Praying that God would not see them as their actions, but through the action of His son.
The heartbroken, praying for the heartbreaker? Is that part of the way forward? The path to freeing an earthly heart chained by bitterness and anger?
Lord, forgiveness is gut-wrenching. So much work to fix something I didn’t break. I don’t know if I can do this.
Tears, flowing like the hard rain outside, poured down her cheeks. Would she continue to see him through her eyes, to focus on betrayal? Or would she hit her knees in surrender in order to view him through Christ’s lens of love and grace?
Perhaps you face a similar crossroads.
No life is untouched by the need to forgive. Pain may come from a one-time misunderstanding with a friend to years of piled up disappointment and hurt. Injustice may have left you with a fire for revenge. But unforgiveness does not give us control or power.
It imprisons. Isolates and entombs.
But today, you have a choice to move forward. As a follower of Christ, we can live in freedom through the power of the cross and His glorious resurrection. It’s ours to claim.
I wish I could give you a hug, assuring you everything would be as good as new. But life is complicated. Trust does not magically return, nor does hurt suddenly disappear. And sadly, broken relationships do not always resolve. The guarantee we do have in forgiving others is the beauty of a restored relationship with our Savior. The One Who has granted us forgiveness, not based on the outcome of our lives or a conditional contract He can break.
But because He literally moved heaven and earth that Good Friday to sacrifice what He loved most for us. All in the hope we would return to Him.
The forgiveness journey is step by step. But only in surrendering present pain do we have the promise of future hope.
And, as the rain clouds part, we can once again see peeks of the Son.