I have come to believe that everyone in life experiences pain in some form or another. None of us can escape, because we live in a fallen world that seems to be getting further and further away from God.
We don’t run to our only source of Hope. We try to control, manipulate, and fix things ourselves, based on our very limited understanding of the “big picture”. We think things are big when they are small, and we think things are small, when looked at eternally, they are very big.
The biggest thing we can ever do is turn our lives over to Jesus and what He did on the cross for us. Then, allow Him to guide us through the chaos of our lives, trusting that He sees what we can’t see and works for our good (Romans 8:28-29), even when we don’t see things as GOOD.
That brings me to Lysa Terkeurst’s latest book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. There are times in our lives when people do hurtful things to us and never believe they have done anything wrong. Even when you point it out to them. They don’t ask for forgiveness because they don’t feel they need it.
And so we go through life becoming more and more bitter, hoping they get what they deserve. And, then they don’t.
We pile up for ourselves sin upon sin, instead of forgiving as we should. Ephesians 4:31 (KJV) says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice:” So, it doesn’t matter what the other person is doing. We can’t pile up sin and blame it on them. We have to examine ourselves and let God intervene and be receptive to His working in us, no matter what the other person does. Because, “if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:15 NLT)
Lysa addresses every realm there is to be addressed when someone has wronged us and we need to work through forgiveness with someone not seeking forgiveness. She brings it down to the fact that how we go forward is based on our relationship with Jesus and what He commands us to do. I have highlighted and dog-eared this book so much, it would be hard for anyone else to read my copy. That is how much information is so appropriate for forgiving the things we can’t forget, because they may be in front of our faces everyday.
And yet, we must.
Lysa gives positive steps to take us toward forgiveness. She is quick to say, it’s not easy and even as you try to do the right things, your own emotions and sins, and the failures of others, knock you back down.
Since, I could not possibly share all that is so very important in this book, I want to take a small section where Lysa tells of a trip to Israel and what she learned about Jesus from her guide.
As Lysa stood in Israel on a very hot day, wishing to go somewhere cooler, the guide caught her attention when he said, “If you’re reading the book of John, there are only two recorded healing miracles of Jesus performed in Jerusalem. One was the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, recorded in John 5. The other was the healing of the blind man at the pool of Siloam in John 9. In both cases, their healing came after a choice they made to obey the Lord, a choice not dependent on anyone else’s actions.”
The lame man, at first, thought he needed the help of others to get him in the water when the angels stirred it. “So, when Jesus asked him, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ the lame man’s response wasn’t ‘Yes!’ Instead, he gave Jesus an excuse based on the fact that no one would help him get to the water.”
Lysa says, “Isn’t it amazing that the man was so focused on what others needed to do that he almost missed what Jesus could do?… Jesus, however, never commented about the people on whom the paralyzed man seemed so fixated…. The healing didn’t involve anyone but the paralyzed man and Jesus.”
As far as the blind man’s miracle, found in John 9, Lysa says, “We don’t read much regarding the blind man’s thoughts about others around him. But we do read that the disciples very much wanted to know whose actions caused the blindness. Someone needed to be blamed. Someone was at fault.”
Lysa continues, “Jesus blew that assumption apart. He didn’t place blame or shame on anyone. He said this man’s blindness ‘happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him’ (John 9:3)… Jesus didn’t make healing contingent on other people doing or owning anything. Jesus gave the instruction. The blind man obeyed. Jesus healed. The blind man moved forward.”
Lysa says, “Standing in Jerusalem that day, my guide continued: ‘In the gospel of John, there were only two recorded healing miracles of Jesus in Jerusalem. One showed us a new way to walk. The other showed us a new way to see.'” (To read the complete story see pages 38-40 of Lysa’s book.)
When I looked up the stories, in the book of John, of these two men being healed, later, we see Jesus giving the lame man more instructions. John 5:14 (NLT) says, “…Jesus found him in the Temple and told him, “Now you are well; so stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”
We have no excuse to sin. Especially since Jesus gave us dominion over sin by his death on the cross (see Romans 6).
Lysa also addresses: survival, emotions, boundaries, dysfunction, loss, grief, and living out forgiveness every day. Pages 222-223 has a small excerpt titled “The Beauty of Forgiving”. In it, she defines what forgiveness looks like, lets you know you’re dealing with hurt and unhealed people, and that your life should not be limited to living the hurt. She says, “The completely delightful, beautiful, fun, and brilliant way GOD MADE YOU must not be tainted by someone who lost their way…. Your future is FULL OF POSSIBILITY and new joys you don’t want to miss.”
I highly recommend this book to married couples, parents, and anyone who is struggling with God’s command to forgive others. I recommend parents use this book to help their children walk through times of hurt.
The last thing I would like to leave you with is a scripture that God kept placing in my mind as I read Lysa’s book and all that we as humans have to walk through on this earth because of sin.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NLT) “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”
I pray that Lysa Terkeurst is blessed for writing her heart wrenching story, to show us how to walk out forgiveness and make changes that help us live with hope. And I pray that you are willing to go buy the book, read it, study the scriptures, and grow spiritually with mercy and grace for others.