"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body;
and be thankful." Colossians 3:15, ESV
"...in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess. 5:18, NET
Struggling to Forgive
I had been fuming for days, weeks really. This one person just made me so mad. Everytime I thought about her I felt angry. Of course I know the Bible tells me to forgive and pray for my enemies. And I did pray for her: I prayed for her to be healed, saved, ... and for God to remove her from my life!
One day, during my time with God, I asked him to tell me what to read. Matthew 5:7 popped into my thoughts. Eagerly I turned there and read,
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy." (ESV)
Instantly I knew this was about...her! I felt convicted and wrote in my journal, "Lord, please show me what it means practically." I looked up some verses on mercy and read, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" in Matthew 12:7.
Now I was crying because of the turmoil between being so angry and hurt, and wanting to obey God. Through tears I wrote, "I don't want to, I don't want to! I am tired of her. I don't want to be used or get hurt again. You are asking a hard thing God. I really don't want her to be in my life Lord!" It occurred to me that my pride was in the way. God loves her. He invited me to set my anger and myself free through—forgiveness and mercy.
After some wrestling with myself and my faith, I told God, "OK I will...I am willing...I will obey! But what does it look like? We really don't interact. What does forgiveness and showing mercy mean practically?
Please show me how to forgive and show mercy!
Through my friend Lynn God showed me the way. I told her the story during our Thursday morning The Story Lives group (a group discussing my book...very fun!). She commented that God won't answer the prayer to make her go away. She laughed and said, "she'll only be in your life more." We both laughed and I believed her because Lynn has some challenging folks in her life too. She shared, "God taught me to give thanks for them."
Curious by this statement I asked her to tell me more. She explained, "Well, I figure that if God placed these people in my life then they are a gift to me. He only allows people and things for my good. So, I thank God for the gift. With one person, I thanked him for showing me that I am not loving and patient."
Wow! That I can do. It is difficult but practical. I can thank God for "her" and for what she's brought to my life and how God is using her to grow me up. I can do that!
Showing mercy and forgiveness through thanksgiving
So I did. I thanked God all the way home (and since that day whenever I think of her). I thanked him for the good she brought to my family in the past and for the lessons he is teaching me. A couple of days later I ran into her and asked if we could talk. (God had told me to ask for forgiveness...he is really stretching me!!!)
I told her I was sorry for how I had treated her. She responded well and then it happened...all the anger fell away. I actually cared for her and what she was going through. God healed my bitterness and anger through thanksgiving and forgiveness.
“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” ~ Harry Ironside
Read more verses and quotes about giving thanks at What Christians Want to Know: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/thanksgiving-bible-verses-15-great-scripture-quotes/#ixzz2dlDu1Ayt