Isaiah 55: 7-8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Somewhere in the muddle of going through separation and divorce, the Lord reminded me that I needed to forgive Rich.
My reaction to the situation was that I wanted Rich to pay for what he’d done. I wanted him to be miserable, to be sad that he’d given up the best wife and kids in the world. I wanted God to punish him and I wouldn’t have minded if He let me help.
God reminded me again that I needed to forgive Rich.
I countered that Rich had really, really hurt me. He was mean, and lied, and broke his promises. He tried to take away my girls and he acted like he didn’t even do anything wrong. And besides, he never asked for my forgiveness.
God reminded me I needed to forgive Rich.
I rather enjoyed being mad at Rich. It gave me something to do, someone on whom to put the blame for everything that went wrong. I felt a little righteous, too, because Rich had made me the victim. I hadn’t done anything wrong.
God reminded me that I needed to ask forgiveness and forgive Rich.
Somewhere in the tumult of my thoughts, I realized that not forgiving Rich was a sin in my life and was leading to many other sins – pride, anger, hate, unkindness – to name a few. I confessed my sins and asked God for forgiveness and for the strength and ability to forgive Rich. I knew this was not something I could do on my own.
“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
No, this verse is in regard to fellow-believers, not soon-to-be-ex-husbands. This is what I have to do to be able to forgive? Impossible.
“But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.'” (Luke 18:27)
Sigh. Yielding to God isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it. I asked again for strength and answered the phone. It was Rich. Blaming me. Telling me he didn’t do anything wrong. Saying he had been a great husband. Telling me to change. And during that call, I felt a change within me. I felt sorry for him. Sadness at what he would miss. Sorrow that he was not in right relationship with God. Compassion for one who would not ask forgiveness.
By the grace of God, I forgave Rich that day as I stood in the hallway of our home and started living my life without the baggage of the anger and hate of the past. It felt good.
Of course, that wasn’t the end of it. With almost every letter or phone call, the same emotions popped into my heart. Every time Rich said or did something to hurt me, I became angry. I had to learn to forgive again.
“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22)