Read: Romans 12:16-21
*PSA: Sensitive Content
It wasn’t too long ago when a “friend” raped me. This person didn’t just do it once, then feel remorse and change. Instead, this person got away with it the second time, and a third time, and then almost every single day for the next six months.
Every time this person violated me, it felt like another piece of myself was being taken away. I wasn’t just being abused sexually, it was also physical as this person would beat me every time I “disobeyed” them. I was also told that I would never add up to anything, and reminded of my flaws. I can’t even count how many times I found myself lying on the floor of a room, beaten, spat at, and demeaned.
Surely, after all I went through, it wouldn’t be wrong for me to want revenge. So it may be hard to read Paul’s words in Romans 12:19. He says, ‘Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”’ Getting justice in this world is not about an eye for an eye. That’s not how God intended it.
After the horrible time I went through, I was broken, and I felt lost. But, I was never alone. Even during times when I was worn and empty, the Lord was there. No one around me knew about what was going on, but He was there, and I could always feel His comforting presence.
Even though at the time it seemed impossible, God has given me peace and victory over what happened to me. Romans 12:20 continues on to say, “To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’”
A couple of years ago, the person who violated me reached out, apologizing for what was done. This person told me that they were in a constant state of regret and couldn’t accomplish anything in life because of it. I responded to the message, after a lot of prayer and counsel from others. It was a long process, but God enabled me to forgive my abuser. This did not mean I forgot what happened or re-established a relationship. I sent a reply just once and then blocked further communication from that person. At times, I can still remember the pain they caused, but I am choosing not to dwell on it.
We can’t control the sinful acts of others, but we can control how we react to the evil that people do to us. In Matthew 18, Peter was going through the same issue of forgiveness and when it was the appropriate time to repay people for the wrong they did to him. Peter said, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” It’s not about counting how many times someone has hurt you to find the limit. Instead, it’s a constant battle of forgiveness and letting God take care of it. Just as God is constantly forgiving us for the sins we commit, we need to do the same and forgive those who sin against us. Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Forgiveness is a continual journey, and the healing process is just the same. Don’t lose hope though, because through everything, God is faithful.
Is there someone you need to forgive? It’s never too late to accept and do as God did and forgive. Depending on the situation, you may not even need to tell the person you’ve forgiven them. Begin by resolving the pain you feel in your heart. God sees and knows that.