Standing Strong Through the Storm - Sunday, September 8, 2013

FORGIVENESS CAN BRING HEALING AND RESTORATION

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Matthew 5:43-45

The literal meaning of the word “forgiveness” in the New Testament is “to release; to hurl away; to free yourself.” The only way to break the chain or cycle of hurtfulness is to stop and ask forgiveness. This allows a relationship to start over and begin anew. The Russian writer, Solzhenitsyn, believed forgiveness is what truly makes us different from animals. Only humans can perform the most unnatural act of forgiveness that transcends the relentless law of nature.

A young Iranian lady, we’ll call Fatima, was full of hatred towards her mother-in-law. For fifteen years her mother-in law was her enemy and there was a great deal of enmity in the family.

Several times Fatima had even tried to kill her mother-in-law. Once she put poison in her soup hoping to kill her. The mother-in-law felt very sick after that and was taken to the hospital. The doctors took the poison out of her stomach and were able to save her life. On another occasion she had beaten her mother-in-law so badly that the ambulance took her to the hospital and again her life was saved. Other times she tried to kill her mother-in-law, but every time her life was saved miraculously.

The main reason for the hatred between Fatima and her mother-in-law was Fatima’s marriage to her son. The mother-in-law had even gone so far as to contact different witches in order to bring a curse on the life of Fatima.

One day Fatima got hold of the JESUS DVD and watched it. The love of Jesus had a great impact on her life. When she heard one of Jesus’ teachings that says: “Love your enemies and bless those who curse you,” she was deeply moved. She was especially touched by the fact that Jesus died on the cross for the sake of His enemies and even asked God to forgive them. At that moment Fatima fell on her knees and asked Jesus to come into her heart and change her. She turned over her entire life to Jesus. After that she sensed this deep love in her heart towards her mother-in-law.

After that experience, Fatima visited her mother-in-law taking flowers and sweets for her. She fell on her knees in front of her and asked for her forgiveness for all the bad things she had done against her. Fatima told her that her life was changed and Jesus had created a new love in her heart towards her. The mother-in-law in turn asked Fatima to forgive her for all the curses she had tried to bring into her life. She also gave her life to Jesus as the result of her daughter-in-law’s evangelism. They entered into a beautiful relationship with one another from that moment onwards.

RESPONSE: Today I will ask forgiveness—as Jesus said—of people I have hated and treated poorly.

PRAYER: Thank You Father for Your example in loving the just and the unjust. Help me to practice this as Your son or daughter.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

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