Today I’m honored to feature a guest-post by Renee Johnson Fisher, author and speaker. Renee runs the very popular webzine, Devotional Diva and is the founder and host of The Quarter Life Conference. Her latest book is Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me.
If forgiveness wasn’t difficult enough, then comes the hard part! Reconciliation. The problem is most people don’t know the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. The Bible says we must forgive (Matthew 6:14-15) so that we can be forgiven, but what it doesn’t say is that you must also reconcile. Because, let’s be honest, sometimes reconciliation is not possible.
Maybe you have forgiven the person who offended you in your heart, but you’re struggling to regain trust in the relationship. Maybe the relationship is over and you’re left with the broken pieces. Or let’s be honest–maybe you don’t want to reconcile.
I found an interesting point of view on Voice of the Martyrs’ blog while researching this last possibility. It goes like this:
An American man and his five-year-old son came up to meet the North Korean after his presentation, and the American greeted our brother by saying, “This is my son, Little Timmy. He prayers every night that God will open Kim Jong II’s heart to accept the gospel.”
Our North Korean brother turned to us and said, “Really? I just pray every night that God kills him.”
Yes, beautiful, breathtaking forgiveness does happen among persecuted Christians. But it happens among those who have daily kept their hearts tender before the Lord though far less breathtaking, far more mundane acts of forgiveness proceeding the hurt. The most moving stories of forgiveness in places like North Korea and Pakistan and Eritrea are not ones where a persecuted Christian spontaneously extends forgiveness to those who harmed his family.
I love this story because as Americans, we might not understand the process of reconciliation and what it looks like.
Chances are if you live in the United States, you’re not persecuted for your faith. But that doesn’t mean we have to be naïve about it! Maybe there’s no possibility of jail time in your future because of your faith, however, even under the most extreme conditions you are currently facing–please know that forgiveness and reconciliation are possible with God. It just might look differently than you expect.
For instance, what the enemy intends for harm God can use for good (Genesis 50:20).
Sometimes the people who hurt you the most are those to whom you are closest, like your best friends or family members. Look at Joseph.
Joseph didn’t just forgive his brothers. He put the past behind him and decided to become a part of the family again. He trusted his brothers.
Thank God Joseph didn’t just throw his brothers in prison when they traveled to Egypt to buy grain from him–otherwise we wouldn’t get to see them reconcile.
It’s interesting to see that he wanted to tell them who he was. Maybe Joseph needed more information. He needed to know if their father was still alive. He also wanted to see Benjamin. Without knowing to whom they were speaking, the brothers told Joseph all about his family and then some.
He tested them.
He asked them questions. He didn’t just blindly offer his forgiveness right away. Joseph wanted to see if they were ready to hear the truth before he revealed who he was to them. If you think about it, the story of Joseph is even more meaningful to use and to his brothers because they were found not guilty.
Next time you’re searching for truth and how to forgive others who have harmed you–remember forgiveness is freely given, but trust is earned.
“I think a big part of forgiveness is overlooked when taught in church, and that’s the truth aspect. I’m reminded of this when looking at the story of Joseph. He forgave his brothers but did not immediately reveal himself. He tested them first to see if they had changed, and once he had ascertained that they were different he gave them his trust again. If this had been taught more in church it would have saved me a lot of emotional pain” –Ashlie, 24.
Adapted from “Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me.” © 2013 Harvest House Publishers. If you would like to know more about how to forgive others including yourself, please feel free to check out Renee Fisher’s new book on Amazon that released August 1st.
Renee Fisher, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of Faithbook of Jesus, Not Another Dating Book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, and Loves Me Not. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. She and her husband, Marc, live in California with their dog, Rock Star. Learn more about Renee atwww.devotionaldiva.com and www.forgivingme.com.