This is a feeling, a mindset that people cling to after feeling wronged.  I’ve thought often about it lately as I contemplate the world around me and even events in my own life.  So many times I have learned from God’s Word, Worship music, and sermons, that forgiveness sets the hurt one free.  It’s not saying what the other person did was ok, or right, but rather extending God’s grace to them.  It is an undeserved grace that often sets the hurt one free and sometimes, if the person receives it, sets the sinner free too.

I have believed for so many years that God is so good.  Lately, it seems, that every movie I pick has some sort of relation to the Holocaust.  Tonight, I tried to not watch one about it, but stumbled accidentally upon one anyway.  It had a happy ending, thank God….BUT, I feel as though the Holocaust is becoming a bit of a stumbling block for me to continue to believe in God’s goodness.  I cannot seem to explain it or understand it.

As always though, my personal relationship with Christ trumps my need to understand and analyze everything that happens now or in the past.  I know that I know.  But, what for the unbeliever? And how can I strengthen my faith in spite of the atrocities that have happened around the world and still happen.

Oftentimes, I just wish that Christ would come in the clouds now.  Come quickly, Lord!  Are we asking enough for this as believers?  Are we satisfied with what the world has to offer?  I can truly say that I am not.  I thank God that I am safe, comfortable, and have my eternal salvation, but I am not satisfied with the world that we live in.  A world of turmoil, brokenness, hurt, starvation.  I take comfort in knowing it all breaks God’s heart too.  Yesterday, I walked into church to sign my kids up for a summer camp and saw a gathering of young people for a funeral.  I was told that a high school student just died in a car crash.  Truly, I tell you, I am trying to take this week as a break from all things that hurt.  To enjoy the solace of my apartment and to take time with God.  BUT, hurt and brokenness are everywhere.  THIS is what I long for a eternal break from….

I know that every day God gives me here on earth means I am here for a reason!!  If He could take me anytime, and isn’t, then it is for a very good reason.  I have 3 wonderful reasons of course to live passionately and whole-heartedly, and I am thankful for the focus, purpose, and delight they give me to wake up to each new day.  BUT, even if they weren’t with me, I would know without a doubt, that I still have a mission to spread God’s Good News and love those around me.  That is much easier said than done.  The Word of God tells me HOW to do this specifically and deliberately each day.

I thank God I live in a country that gives me freedom to worship, freedom to believe, freedom to speak.  I thank God that our country is relatively safe.  I thank God that He hears my prayers.

Tonight, I pray for unbelievers, those on the fence.  I pray they step over in faith.  Just two nights ago I had a very interesting conversation with a fellow, around 29, who was very intelligent, but an atheist.  We talked about Jesus as we watched the sunset over Savannah Rapids Pavilion.  He didn’t leave totally convinced, but I know that God planted a seed, even through this imperfect evangelist.  He did leave thinking about it.  He said He had no faith.  I have heard those words before.  Several times in my life.  I think I see that since God has given me a gift of faith from Himself, He wants me to use it to help those who simply struggle to have faith.  I think that even for those who believe, greater faith is something for which we always long too.

Hatred.  It feels like a hard word, like a rock.  When you see the look of hatred on people’s faces, their eyes turn cold.  I have literally felt God’s voice in my heart tell me that my heart is too beautiful to harbor hatred.  How can we get rid of it if we do not trust God to handle our situation?  I submit to you, that we cannot.  It takes an act of God, God’s power, God’s grace to remove hatred, bitterness from our hearts….and to replace it with grace, mercy, and trust in Him.

Something I am asking God for is to give me a heart that longs to give mercy.  A gracious, merciful heart is what I pray for also tonight.

Lord, give me a merciful heart that flows from your heart and responds immediately with mercy and compassion when wronged.  Help me respond well in the moment and release the need to handle the situation with anything else than love and mercy.  Amen.

Mercy comes easier to me with my kids, but what about someone who should know better?  What about someone who has hurt many times?  That is where, I think, it takes an act of God to empower us to be full of His mercy.

When we know that God truly knows best, even when we don’t understand, we can let go and trust Him.  Without any doubt, without any reservation.  I think back to all the stories I have read in the Bible, all the situations God has walked me through, all that I know about the Lord.  I have a heart that thirsts for answers, I have a need to understand.  But, I have so little control in life.  I can decide what I believe, what I eat, how much I exercise, what activities I engage in, and how I respond or interact with other people.  With my kids, I decide what I teach them and how I model Christlike behavior.  This is about all I control.  I think this is enough control though!  The truth is, only God is strong, powerful, and wise enough to manage any more than my little piece of the pie 🙂 I humbly acknowledge that even in the little I do have influence over, I still need God’s guidance every step of the way…because life can simply be confusing and unpredictable.

I think harboring hatred is an offspring of control.  Perhaps one might think he/she can control the situation/person by hating it/the person.  But, it doesn’t change the situation, mostly it makes it worse.  We can disapprove and trust God.  Trust me, GOD IS OFFENDED BY SIN!!!!  Thank God HE DOES NOT OVERLOOK SIN!!!

I told my kids this recently…I cannot remember what we were talking about, but I think in general the topic was revenge.  Returning evil for evil.  One child was doing that in a minor way with another child and I asked my child what revenge accomplishes.  The child said honestly…from personal experience, “nothing.”  And then said, “actually, it just makes more evil.”  I then talked to them about our purpose as Christians is to be the salt and light of the world, and what that means as children is to bless and not curse, to return good for evil.  The only way to overcome evil is with good.  They were really listening and I think I’ll keep quizzing them on this concept.  It is the first step to remember God’s Word, to hide it in our heart, and then the next step I think is to fully believe it and apply it to our days and lives.  I explained to my kids, the reason they can overcome evil with good is because, for one, it brings more goodness into the world, two, it keeps them innocent and pure, and three, because God truly does take care of the situation (“it is mine to avenge” and “God is offended by sin” and there are few things more satisfying to me personally than seeing God’s Will so clearly delivered in a situation that is clear cut.  One offender and that’s it.  I tell the children, when you are innocent, God can act swiftly to the other!  I do believe they are seeing that and trusting and fearing God more.  And so am I.

So we can let go of any bitter root, any hurtful memories, any hatred…we CAN LAY IT AT THE CROSS, because my friends, GOD IS ABLE to take care of it in His perfect way.  And He will.  I think truly, our hearts should long for mercy.  Out of humility and love, we long for mercy.

Thank-you Father for your mercies are NEW every morning.

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