The Power to Forgive

ID-100161689I’ve often said, forgiveness is rarely a one-time event. Nor is it an emotion, at least originally. It usually begins with a choice, sometimes a teeth-gritting, white-knuckling, Lord Jesus please help me, choice. One that must be made again and again and again, every time old wounds and negative emotions resurface.

Forgiveness is rarely easy, but it is possible, with God’s help.

Today my friend, Janet Sketchley, Author of Secrets and Lies, shares her thoughts on Janet Sketchley headshot 350x350 (1)how we can begin to move toward forgiveness, and the freedom and healing that offers.

BUT FIRST I wanted to announce last week’s give-away winner.

LoRee, congrats! You won a copy of When Dawn Breaks! I’ll shoot you an email so we can talk about the best way for me to get that to you. 🙂 In the meantime, you can read the first two chapters here. 

And now, for Janet’s encouraging thoughts.

Forgiveness by Janet Sketchley

“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12, NLT

Someone hurts you. Next day, she apologizes. Do you say it’s okay, not a big deal? Pretend nothing happened, for the good of the relationship? Or do you refuse to forgive? Can you forgive, if it’s a major hurt?

Forgiveness is more about the victim than the offender. We’ve all been both. As the wounded parties, we can find healing and wholeness by acknowledging what happened and letting it go. Otherwise it stays inside us and continues to do damage.

“But you don’t know what she did!” No, but I know the hardest things are beyond our power to forgive without Jesus helping us. It can take years to start forgiving a traumatic hurt, and that may be just the first step. It may need regular repetition until that forgiveness “takes” at our deepest levels.

Forgiveness (1)

Dismissing a hurt, or learning to work around it, isn’t forgiveness. Honest forgiveness is a hard choice and it takes time, and we still have the after-effects of the hurt. If I steal from you and you forgive me, wisdom says you shouldn’t put me in charge of your bank password.

God’s forgiveness is different. If we accept Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross to buy us back from destruction, He forgives us. Every time we ask with a sincere heart. Even for the same offense, again and again.

He never denies the effects of our sin, and we may live with  its consequences. He forgives, but He doesn’t brush it off—the chance at forgiveness came at a great cost. But He removes it.

People may struggle to forgive, or may say they do without really meaning it. With God, we can believe that once He forgives, He truly does put the matter away. Not forgets, not dismisses. He marks it “paid.” That allows us to see the depth of the cost, the strength of the offense. But it doesn’t leave us with a burden to prove ourselves or to earn our way back into His good graces.

God knows our hearts and intentions—and our weaknesses. He likely wouldn’t put an embezzler, for example, back into the same position of trust. There are consequences in our world. But He regularly forgives and cleans us up, knowing that despite our best intentions we’ll mess up again. He doesn’t keep a tally that will eventually cut us off. Instead He offers as much help as we’ll take. As often as we need it.

In the mean time, He acknowledges the weight of what we’ve done, minimizing nothing. Jesus Himself paid the price. Now He works in and with us to remake us. How strong a love is that?

***

Janet Sketchley is the author of Heaven’s Prey and Secrets and Lies, two novels of suspense and redemption. She also blogs about faith and books. Janet loves adventure stories, worship music, tea and Formula 1 racing. Like Carol in Secrets and Lies, she loves music and tea. Unlike Carol, Janet isn’t related to a dangerous offender, has a happy home life, and has never been threatened by a drug lord. May those tidbits continue to hold true! You can find Janet online at janetsketchley.ca. Fans of Christian suspense are invited to join Janet’s writing journey through her monthly newsletter: bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews.

Visit Janet online at:

Website: http://janetsketchley.ca/

Join Janet’s author journey – sign up for her monthly newsletter: http://bit.ly/JanetSketchleyNews

Secrets and Lies page (includes purchase links): http://janetsketchley.ca/books/secrets-and-lies/

Read a sample chapter here. 

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livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! We’ve all been hurt, betrayed, let down by someone we love. So how do we handle that? How have you dealt with past pains? Did you find forgiveness took effort and perseverance, or did God grant you a miraculous emotional healing and change of heart? Or perhaps you’re still hurting, still trying to fight for forgiveness. If so, did Janet’s post help you? Share your thoughts in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. 

Other posts and articles you might find helpful:

Fighting to Forgiveness

490 Forgiveness

Freedom in Forgiveness

How to Trade Bitterness for Blessings

For those of you not on Facebook but who would like to follow my book-launch blog tours, signings, and interviews and such:

Yesterday on Bonnie Leon’s blog, I shared the time I asked God for permission to quit. You can read that here.

Tuesday I chatted with Greg Vogt, station manager of Omaha’s KCRO about my new release and the inspiration behind it. You can listen to our on-air discussion here:

Monday and Tuesday I participated in two blog interviews.

Join me on Kelly Liberto’s blog here.

Join me on Grid-iron Granny’s here.

On Saturday, I visited with Alexis from Capturing the Idea. You can read our chat here.

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Does Prayer Work

What do you say to a woman who’s lost her child? Or what about the man who, after night after night of fervent prayer, remains unemployed? What of the friend who continues to struggle with chronic illness despite all the intercessors praying for her healing? And how do we reconcile these things when we prayed with a faith strong enough to “move mountains”?

Today a friend and fellow ACFW author, Janet Sketchley, talks about this very thing. As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her debut novel, Heaven’s Prey to one lucky reader selected from the comments below.

After you read her thoughts, share yours.

Janet Sketchley headshot 350x350Does prayer work? If we believe it does, or even if we only hope it might, we’ve probably whispered “Please help them” about someone we care for, at least once.

The better we know God’s character, and the longer we’ve walked with Him, the more confidence we have in prayer. He’s developing our faith. Even so, praying for people is tricky.

We can’t ask for what we think is best, because God has a much bigger view of the situation than we do. If their current hardship is a building block for His work in their lives or to draw others to Himself, who are we to get in the way?

“Prayer is the verbalization of your total dependence on God.” ~Dr. Wayne Barber

As such, it’s more than a wish list. It includes recognizing who God is, praising and thanking Him, asking forgiveness of those things that have come between us, asking for His perspective in our lives… and listening to Him.

The intercession part, where we’re committing others’ needs (and our own) to God’s care, is vital. It’s not about giving God advice—or instructions. And it’s not like we have to point out the issue to Him. He already knows all about it, and has a plan for what’s next.

My grandmother prayed daily for each family member by name. She called it her “knee grandmas-love-197294-mwork.” Whether we’re that diligent about it or we only pray for our loved ones when there’s a crisis, reaching out to God on their behalf is natural.

When we don’t know what to ask, we can commit them to His care. I often pray for sustaining grace and that the individual(s) will allow their circumstances to draw them nearer to God. For open eyes and hearts to recognize His care in the middle of their stress. For faith, perseverance, and courage.

It’s important to pray for the people we interact with. We know their needs, and often we can be part of the comfort, support or help they need. God may want to answer our prayers for them through us.

Janet Sketchley is a Canadian author with a passion for story. She’s also a wife, mom, daughter, and friend, balancing relationships and responsibilities while learning how faith applies to real life. Combine all that with her quirky imagination to get inspiring novels about everyday women in suspenseful situations, who discover more strength within than they could have dreamed.

Janet’s novel, Heaven’s Prey, released November 1, 2013 from Choose NOW Publishing. Feel free to tell your friends! For more information and a free sample chapter, see the Heaven’s Prey page at Choose NOW Publishing.

Heavens_Prey_Front_Cover 302x468Heaven’s Prey :

A grieving woman is abducted by a serial killer—and it may be the answer to her prayers.

Despite her husband’s objections, 40-something Ruth Warner finds healing through prayer for Harry Silver, the serial killer who brutally raped and murdered her niece. When a kidnapping-gone-wrong pegs her as his next victim, Harry claims that by destroying the one person who’d pray for him, he proves God can’t—or won’t—look after His own. Can Ruth’s faith sustain her to the end—whatever the cost?

Let’s talk about this! The other night at my Bible study group, we discussed this very thing. One of our members lost a child to a congenital illness, and she shared how fervently she’d prayed for her daughter’s healing. She said she’d prayed with a “faith to move mountains,” and yet, her daughter had died anyway. But then she said something very thought provoking. “What if the mountains that move are a different kind of mountain?”

livingbygracepic.jpLike the mountain of someone else who’s watching us persevere, watching us rely fully on God, who goes from disbelief to saving faith.

Or the mountain of a marriage, once teetering dangerously close to divorce, now restored.

Or the mountain of an emotional wound experiencing a deep level of healing.

How often do we consider those mountains? Join the conversation here, in the comments below, or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Another post you might enjoy:

When is enough enough

Resources you might find helpful:

Live a Praying Life by New Hope Publishers