When Forgiveness Leaves Justice Up to God

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

“Are you ever going to get over it?”

I was surprised by the question and a little annoyed.

“I certainly hope so,” I replied. But did I really want to move beyond what happened? I was a victim. Didn’t I rather enjoy recounting a litany of injustice?

Once a collaborative project I had worked on for several years was complete, another person swiftly moved to claim sole credit, leaving me stunned and wounded. I felt used. When I attempted to discover the reasons for this behavior, I was answered with anger and verbal abuse. I was mystified by this unexpected twist that ended our relationship.

A year later, I was still reeling with hurt and ranting about injustice. Like a dog worrying a bone, I’d grabbed the subject at every possible opportunity, gnawing it again and again. I wanted others to see the unfairness of what happened and sympathize with me. Although I had recorded my feelings in a journal and prayed for resolution, I had no sense of peace.

One day, while asking God to help me forgive, he surprised me by pointing out that what I really wanted was revenge. God reminded me forgiveness and revenge cannot coexist. Forgiveness involves releasing offenders from paying for the injury they inflicted. Since I still wanted my offender to pay, it was impossible for me to forgive.

Still, I was reluctant. The word “justice” hovered like a banner across my mind. But as I continued to pray, I began to see that not only would I never put the hurt behind me if I didn’t do what God asked, but I’d also be guilty of disobeying him. So, in a heartfelt prayer, I relinquished my desire for justice to God and asked him to give me the grace to obey and trust him. I felt a spiritual weight lift as I took the first breath of forgiveness.

God changed my heart, but not immediately. It was a process. When I was tempted to recount injustice, God gently reminded me to be silent. Sometimes I listened and obeyed, other times I couldn’t seem to resist diving into the familiar tirade again.

God brought to mind times when I’d hurt others through careless or deliberate words, indifference, or purposeful exclusion. Painfully, I began to see myself as guilty of wounding others as I had been wounded. When I started seeing the “logs” in my own life, my offender’s “specks” didn’t seem quite as significant (Luke 6:41-42 NASB).

Finally, God prompted me to offer blessings instead of curses. Initially, that seemed like too much to ask, but in a willful act of obedience, I tried. At first, my prayers were tiny, stiff, and peripheral. I prayed for God to bless my offender’s family, but avoided praying for my offender. But those prayers paved the way, so eventually I could pray more directly and sincerely.

I may never know exactly how God handled justice, but to my amazement, I don’t feel the need to know. My heart is no longer crushed and weighed down by resentment. My mind is not clouded by thoughts of revenge, and my tongue no longer spews venom. I have experienced the freedom of forgiveness, a place I would never have reached without continual dialogue with God through prayer.

Don’t say, “I will get even for this wrong.” Wait for the Lord to handle the matter. Prov. 20:22 NLT

When Forgiveness Leaves Justice Up to God – encouragement from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy Arrington

About the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at www.CandyArrington.com, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled to forgive? How did it finally happen?

Weeding and Waiting

by Cheri Cowell

A flat tire had derailed my carefully laid plans.

After bitterly complaining to God about the fact that I did not have time for this interruption, I surrendered. I decided to use the wait for emergency road service to make a call to a friend who needed encouragement. That felt good. All right Lord, You were right. Thank you for helping me to take the time to make those calls. So now what do you have in store for me? I looked around at my surroundings.  There was a flowerbed full of weeds right in front of me in the church parking lot where I waited (in safety—another blessing that did not escape me once my attitude had changed). While I’m here I might as well weed the whole bed.

Weeding and waiting. . .what a great way to spend an afternoon. Not.

Hurry up and wait seems to be what I find myself doing most of the time. From the checkout line at the grocery store to the waiting room at the doctor’s office, I often find myself forced to wait. And as I do, oftentimes the weeds of impatience, pride, and selfishness rear their ugly heads. God faithfully uses those moments to show me my true self in all its glory.

Some weeds can be strikingly beautiful, and it’s not until they’ve taken over an entire yard that we see their destructive nature. Like the other day, when after several weeks of waiting for an appointment to see the Orthopedic Surgeon, the rude receptionist wouldn’t let me see the doctor. She said I needed a referral when I knew I did not. Even after calling the insurance company and having them explain my benefits to her, she refused to let me in.

Unfortunately, I did not handle the situation with grace. I exploded, impatience and pride overtaking me like weeds in a garden. My ugliness was highlighted even more when God fixed my problem by having another doctor’s office go out of their way to work me in that afternoon. In comparison with my bad attitude, His pure and unmerited grace exposed my sin for what it was: dirty as mud.

“If you don’t mind waiting,” the receptionist at the second office said, “I will work you in.”

“That will be great,” I responded, knowing the wait would give me more time to do a little weeding.

Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you. Proverbs 20:22 NIV

cheri cowellAbout the author: Cheri Cowell is the author of Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life. To connect with Cheri visit www.CheriCowell.com .

Join the conversation: What weeds are in your garden?