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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Byers

The Exotic of Heaven

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

The harm done to us by another can be such that great courage is needed in the process of grace-filled forgiveness. In our suffering, our natural minds may demand justice, while of course wanting mercy for ourselves. Our way seems right to ourselves. Or, we just don’t want to pay the price to lay down the offense, sometimes very significant indeed. Retaliation is reflexive; forgiveness is not. And often, we don’t realize the effect our unforgiveness releases to poison ourselves and others (Heb. 12:15). In our attempt to stop our pain, we only prolong it and create an invisible barrier with God and others. Our ways are not His ways! Bitterness guarantees we will remain a victim of our pain and even exaggerate it.

The truth is, we aren’t spared suffering, and we can’t reverse the wrong done or rewrite our history. Yet our story changes in meaning and potency when we release forgiveness and trust Christ to bring beauty from ashes. We can choose life; we can stand in the Cross and offer our pain to Jesus, expecting Him to lift the effects from us. We can choose to step away from the destruction and replace it with blessing. This releases us from the power of the harmful person, and the power of our own bitterness. Guardini, in his book The Lord, writes that forgiveness is choice, but not mere choice; it is incarnate. The incarnate presence of Christ within us engraces us for this transaction.

But we must not only forgive, we must also bless with all our heart, bringing our offender to the throne of grace and asking God’s intervening mercy. We move more fully forward when we choose to bless – it not only brings us greater freedom but paves the way for God to do what He intends. Then He determines what form that blessing takes.

F. B. Meyer wrote: “Forgiveness is an exotic which Christ brought with him from heaven.” An exotic not of this world! He forgave, and now it is our birthright. As we embrace forgiveness, we are brought into the intersection of our earthly lives with the supernatural realm of his kingdom. He now can move in unexpected ways. And He is so much bigger than anything done to us! So, as we release forgiveness and blessing, He is free to move as “faith works through love” (Gal. 5:6).

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