Last week was a very difficult week for me personally. It felt like the perfect storm where all things surrounding me had spiraled desperately out of control. I fell into despair and wondered where God was in the midst of each of these situations. It was a very dark place for me, and for a time, I forgot that our battle in this world is not against flesh and blood but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12). We are in a spiritual battle and I failed to recognized that I was standing in the line of fire. I was listening to the lies of Satan about me and about each of these situations, and it felt overwhelming and depressing.
And as I cried out loud, “Please help me God, where are you??” I saw Him reveal Himself in four specific and clear ways throughout the week, even in the middle of my despair. I won’t share about each of them because some are very personal to me. But I did want to share one amazing way God touched me this past week. God led me to a particular sermon by David Platt that I desperately needed to hear.
In Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asks Jesus about how often he should forgive someone who has wronged him. Peter thinks he’s going above and beyond when he was willing to forgive someone seven times. But Jesus blows his mind when He says, “Not seven, but seventy times seven,” which basically means always. Always? Forgive? I’ve recently found myself asking this very question. “Lord, how many times must I forgive this person??” And the answer comes back to me from this passage: “Always.”
If we’re all really honest with ourselves, this has got to be the hardest part of living the Christian life. Forgiveness is a very difficult thing to do, especially when the person has not even asked for forgiveness. But it is something we are commanded to do because our own forgiveness is at stake – whether there is an apology or not. Jesus always connects our forgiveness of other people to the forgiveness that we hope to receive ourselves. In the Lord’s Prayer it says, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.” In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
That’s a tough verse to read. Is my forgiveness really conditional on how well I forgive others?