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May 24, 2008

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Heidi

Thanks for this article! I really needed to read this today! In your "forgiveness is NOT..." part of the article, you've clarified for me what I've been thinking regarding forgiveness. I've known that I've needed to come to terms with that, but when "reprograming" oneself it is so helpful to hear words of affirmation and instruction from someone else! So thanks! I also really appreciate your comments on what forgiveness is. This is all so different from anything I've heard before and I'm so glad to see that you can verbalize and teach people like myself CLEARLY what we want to express but can't seem to find the words for. :) I appreciate your articles Brad!

bradjersak

Dear Debbi,

Thanks for sharing this. Many people struggle with anger at God and it does no good to hide or repress it. It seems to me that he wants to hear your honest complaints (like Ps. 6 or 13 or 22, etc.) and then meet you in the tragedy with an offer to carry the pain. I find it interesting how many people who were willing to do that not only make their peace with God, but also hear him say, "I'm sorry." Not that he's apologizing but there's something powerful about hearing God say, "I'm sorry that you experienced that. It was not my heart for you." The tendency is to ask WHY? but we find it more helpful to ask WHERE? Where were you in the midst of the tragedy? Then watch what he wants to show you.

Debbi

What about forgiving God? Anyone struggling with that? As bizarre as that is, I am actually afraid about what I really think in my heart about what God allows. The truth be told, I am angry at God for allowing so much tragedy in my life and I really can't trust Him though I love Him. Doesn't love and trust go together? I have no idea how to get through this. Any insight?

Eric H Janzen

I don't know if this would be helpful, but one thing Jesus has taught me is that forgiveness is indeed a journey. The way I remember this is with the following phrase: Forgiveness is a process of mercy. This helps me to walk through forgiviving others when it is particulary painful and difficult and it aknowledges that there is genuine pain and consequence to deal with.

eric h janzen

Rockie

Eric,

I like what you said about the possibilities of forgiveness also being a "promise". Makes alot sense when it comes to the aspects of forgiveness manifesting in Layers in our lives as Brad mentioned.

Rockie

bradjersak

Thinking some more... random but important:

1. "There but for the grace of God go I" would be to miss the point of Jesus' writing in the sand and reinforce the us/them problem. More accurately: "There go we all, in our own and sundry ways. Thank God that his grace extends to us all."

2. One of my friends shared the following with me: "Your article really fleshed out something that I discovered when I was in breakdown. I found out that for years I had done the standard evangelical thing and forgave at every opportunity, in reality I was just diverting/bypassing the pain. I realized that to forgive I also had to allow the truth of the pain and process it--even if it meant that I could not then easily forgive! I had years of pain backed up because I had bypassed the truth and gone straight to forgiveness- yet another example of mistaught doctrine in my life!"

3. Hosea 3 calls into question the oft-used adjective "unconditional" (whether it's describing love or forgiveness or reconciliation). Whenever we must deal with the fall-out of each other's failures by enforcing boundaries of safety or expectations re: the fruit of repentance, we may also be accused of being unforgiving or judging, etc. But here is what the Lord says to Hosea:

"Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."

So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, "You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you."

For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.

Jordan

dude... thans so much for that... who knew it would be super important and relevant for me .. right now... on outreach in budapest. Thanks dude. for the revelation of God in you and the obedience to speak it out.

Debbi

I think it is important to remember that to 'forgive is divine'. It is not a 'human' ability nor is it our desire, in fact our first reaction is always to take revenge or or at least hold a grudge, in any case it is meant to punish. Like anything else in our Christian walk, it is not about us, it is all about Jesus. Love comes from Him, Faith comes from Him, and Forgiveness comes from Him. Our ability to do any of these things is because His Spirit lives in us. It is through His Will and Power working in and through us, all we need to do is to desire his heart and purpose in all things. In that place there is no struggle, just the confidence in knowing all is under His control, and we can trust Him with Him with the outcome.

josh g.

This is really good stuff.

It's strange to work out what forgiveness means as an ongoing process, and yet still have this statement "I forgive you". It almost seems like "I am forgiving you" would be more true, in the sense that when something really hurts you have to continue to forgive as the pain surfaces.

But somehow that seems to undermine the power of telling someone that they are forgiven. So I really don't know. Maybe "I forgive you" is a promise as well as a statement of what has already been done.

Eric H Janzen

So say we all.

I hear what your saying Brad. Some years ago the Lord confronted me on literally tons of unforgiveness I was carrying around (a danger for those who are wired as cynics), and I had no choice but to allow him to lead me through a time of dealing with the piles of grudge files I had stored up. The effect of that time is that I am very quick to be merciful and forgive now. I NEVER want to have to deal with a pile of garbage like that again. The fruit of this is a greater freedom to love despite the risk that I may get hurt. Jesus has an amazing ability to deal with our hurts, we just have to give him the chance to do so.

cheers,
eric h janzen

Doug McGillis

very, very good thoughts and exhortations on forgiveness.

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