Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does change the future. Any abuse is ugly, but sexual abuse has a particularly deep effect on self-worth. It is full of shame and despair. Whether the abuse is from incest, rape, trafficking, or prostitution, after the damage comes living with the memory. To live any kind of healthy, normal life there is one important action that must happen: forgiveness. Even if the abuser is in jail, dead, or never to be seen again, you can forgive them. If you want true freedom from your abuse, you must forgive.

EVERY TIME YOU THINK OF IT, FORGIVE AGAIN

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In chapter eleven of my book Back from Broken, I write that in forgiving my father for abusing me I did not forget what he had done. If I had not forgiven, my life would have been ruined by me, not him. Unforgiveness is choosing to stay trapped in a jail cell of bitterness, serving time for someone else’s crime. I spent many years in a prison of unforgiveness and it made me angry and self-absorbed.

As a follower of the teachings of Jesus Christ, I believe Jesus, the Son of God,  was born a human but who never did, said, or thought anything that was against God’s perfect standards. He did not sin. When He died on a criminal’s cross, His death paid the sacrifice for all my wrong-doing. In fact, He paid for all people, including you. Jesus rose from the dead as proof of His deity. We have hope of eternal life because of the resurrection. We have forgiveness when we believe in Jesus. Because we are forgiven, God expects us to forgive others who wrong us. In God’s economy, there is no different levels or degree of sin. For a perfect God, all sin is equal. Therefore, the act of incest is no worse than a lie. Murder is no worse than adultery.  Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins.”

It’s been said, “Unforgiveness is like taking poison but expecting someone else to die.” The person who hurt us is not harmed by our unforgiveness, only we are hurt. And it is not our place to seek revenge on the abuser. It goes without saying we are to report a crime, testify to the facts, be grateful when justice is served. We can depend on God to punish them, if not in an earthly court, they will receive judgment by God in eternity. Romans 12:19 Don’t take revenge, dear friends. Instead, let God’s anger take care of it. After all, Scripture says, “I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back, says the Lord.”

As you look forward to 2024, wouldn’t you like this to be the year you leave unforgiveness in the past? Would you like to move into the future with forgiveness in your heart? You don’t have to do it in your own strength. Ask God to help you. A simple prayer like: “Lord I can’t forgive on my own. I struggle to forgive, please help me.”

He will. Trust Him. He loves you very much, just the way you are. Come to Him in faith and start a personal relationship with Him.  2024 will be the first year of the rest of your eternal life.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 TLB