Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Forgiveness?

I hate to have to address this issue but unfortunately we live in a broken world full of marriages where both parties are sinners. That’s life. Both you and your husband were born with sin in their lives, and even when we have come to Christ and asked Him to forgive us, we are only human.

So we need a plan when we think about our marriages. We need to think about what we can do when we hit the inevitable bumps in the road, and how we can still glorify God and our husbands through the trials and pain.

The thing I want to talk about today is forgiveness. This is a BIG topic but one I feel is paramount to whether our marriages survive or not. It is too easy to get out of marriage these days – not emotionally, but physically. All you have to do is see how quickly Katie Holmes left and divorced Tom Cruise earlier this summer. It seemed to happen in a heart-beat, although I’m sure she put hours of thought into it before the actual end.

Things are just so easy to stop and start these days. There is no focus on making things last or of saving things – whether that’s material things or a marriage or relationship. The question we need to ask is whether we want to go along with the world’s view or go to God’s view.

Marriage is difficult. Things go wrong. These things may be relatively small – like things getting on your nerves or hurting you – or they may be big – like abuse or cheating. Let me remind you that I am not an expert and if you have either of these things going on in your marriage, I would advise you to seek help from a Pastor or counsellor. These things are too big to be ignored or pushed under the carpet.

I have been reading a lot of books and blogs about marriage recently, and I came across a story which totally touched my heart. I am of the belief that people can change and that everyone deserves a second chance… and yes maybe a third one or a fourth one too. The Bible teaches us that we are to forgive those who do wrong against us – and just because you are married to him, and he does more against you than anyone else, doesn’t mean he isn’t deserving of your forgiveness.

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times...”
Matthew 18:22

Let me tell you about this lady. Her husband was a worship Pastor in their church. Behind her back he had been sleeping with women in every area that they had lived and worked. Behind her back he was lying and cheating. And not just once…. The only reason that she found out was because the last lady he slept with found out she was pregnant.

Take a minute to think about that. Your whole life is in front of people – the people in your church, the people in the community, and all those people who just love to pull Christians and their faith down. And you find out that your husband is a serial adulterer. And is about to become a father again.

I cried my eyes out when I read her story. And my first reaction was that she needed to throw him out. After all that’s one of the few reasons we are allowed to divorce, right? But then I cried even more when I read her journey of forgiveness and acceptance. I know – when I first heard about her story (before I read it) I thought –‘How could anyone be so stupid as to keep him? There is no way he deserves a second chance! She’d be better off without him’ But as I read it God spoke through it and I can totally agree with her decision to keep her marriage, forgive her husband and let God be glorified in whatever happens next.

Don’t get me wrong - forgiveness isn’t forgetting. It doesn’t mean that you condone the person’s actions and it doesn’t mean that you just brush it under the carpet and go on as if it never happens. True forgiveness takes place more easily when you can see genuine repentance and when you can see that the person is broken by what they have done, but true forgiveness can also happen when that isn’t the case. True forgiveness is a God thing.

Just think about Gordon Wilson who openly forgave the terrorists who had killed his daughter Marie in the Enniskillen bomb. He didn’t need their repentance or their confession. He didn’t need to come face to face with them or have it out with them or have them say how sorry they were… or make things right. He just needed God. God helped him to find it in his heart to forgive them.

We have a choice. Whether your husband cheats on you or just annoys you by leaving his dirty socks on the floor every night – we can choose to forgive him or not. But be aware – this will not be an easy thing. It takes lots of prayer, lots of patience and lots of God-given strength. But you can get there and I have heard of lots of marriages that have been restored after such incidents, through God’s love and power. Don’t give up. It can work for you too.

The one thing I would remind you however, is that if you decide to forgive your husband it does mean that that subject is NOT to be brought up in every argument or row you have for the next twenty years! We need to be humble in our forgiveness.

‘Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself
It’s thinking of yourself less.’
C.S.Lewis

It will never work if you keep bringing up the gentle reminder that you forgave that horrid thing he did every time he does something you don’t like! I know it will be hard – we’re only human after all – but I promise you that when we follow God’s Word and really practise forgiveness in our lives (and marriages) God can do amazing things.

Just read Cindy’s story for yourself.  Her story has written in a book but it is also on her blog. The link takes you to a page where some of the posts are. http://cindybeall.com/?s=chapter+2&submit=Submit&paged=6

I hope you can get some encouragement out of this and not think about the doom and gloom of a situation where all is going wrong. Forgiveness is a choice. It’s a choice we can make, and as God is our help and our backbone, we can get through anything and come out the other side bringing glory, honour and praise to Him. It is possible. Not only have I read about it, but I have also seen it happen.

God is an amazing God and with Him all things are possible. Take some time and think about what God can do in your marriage if you let Him. And let me know what you think…

Keep shining… J

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