Tag Archives: forgiveness

A soft answer to harsh words

As some of you know, I’m from South Africa, so we have a very traumatic past coloured by discrimination, violence and hatred. The country has grown up a lot, but you will still find wounds buried deep in the hearts of some citizens.

One day I had commented on one of my black friend’s Facebook walls. I had commented about how heart breaking it was to see people without homes.

All of a sudden I received this message from another black person who I had never met in my life saying,
Hey white b*tch – As far as I can see ur picture and ur name, wat ever that means, you are white and that makes u a non- South African. If i were u i’ll shut up. Do u know where u come from? look at your mirror if u do have one and take the first plane or boat home. For the virtue of being white that makes u a non-African! Go home u’ve looted us enough!! Remember June 16 1976? My brother was there and was part of it!” (spelling his own)

I’m not gonna lie. I was petrified. Luckily I was so petrified that I didn’t even have the capacity to fall into the sin of anger! I never replied straight away because I knew I would’ve said the wrong thing. The fleshly thing!

I closed Facebook and prayed. I prayed for wisdom to either ignore the message, or for the Holy Spirit to give me the right words to say. Whatever His will was.

I got an urging to message him back and all I said was a simple, “Hi, I am sorry if I offended you and made you angry. All I meant was that I hate seeing people without jobs and homes, food etc and its heart-breaking, that’s all. Enjoy your day.

He replied, “because of your greedy appetite as Whites u’ve made us live in match boxes in Soweto and everywhere around our humble beautiful Africa. We were so fine till u thugs arrived! Enjoy your day too. I just can’t stand u people thats all!”
See the change in attitude? “enjoy your day too…that’s all.” Almost explaining himself by ‘that’s all.’ You want me dead but now you’re telling me to enjoy my day? Kindness melts hearts, Jesus was onto something here right? “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

So, I decided to seal the conversation with Jesus. Jesus’ name has that awesome ability to stop anything dead in its tracks. I replied, “I’m truly sorry about your brother, I really am, I’m not just saying that. I’m sorry for your tragedy. I’m also sad that you hate me. I don’t know if you will understand this but I love you without knowing you because Jesus Christ commanded me to. I can’t take your pain away, but He can, if you will let him.

I never heard from him again. I’m sure he wanted more than anything to have this vicious fight with this stupid white girl and get all his friends involved. And if I obeyed my flesh, that’s what he would’ve gotten! He pops into my head now and then and I pray for him. I could have blocked him to ensure he never started trouble with me again, but what would that help? I just spoke Jesus’ name to him but to show the opposite of love by blocking him would have probably shown that I don’t actually have any interest, I never meant what I said and I really just wanted him off my back. Jesus does not want people off His back, He wants them in His kingdom.

We don’t ever have to prove our point or even defend ourselves. I don’t think our job is ever to defend ourselves. As much as others’ words may hurt or frighten us, we should not draw attention to ourselves, but to Jesus. Jesus is perfect, and when finding yourself in a situation like that, who can argue with Perfection?

 

Pastor Saeed Abedini: a supreme and inspiring example of forgiveness

I came across Pastor Saeed Abedini’s letter to his wife while in prison, from a great blog called Footsteps in the Deep. 
I found this so inspiring and something we can all learn from as I am sure this is going to escalate on a much wider level in these end days!
It made me wonder how I would react in a similar situation, faced with dread and fear. It may seem easy to me now sitting on a cooshy couch to claim, “Oh I would show them I forgive them so that Jesus may be glorified!” But would I really? It was extremely hard to forgive those who bashed a baby to unconsciousness, but I did it because the Holy Spirit ensured love saturated the experience. But when the wounds are inflicted on yourself? I pray that God takes over in those situations because it truly is a moment of being able to surrender to Him so that He can make the impossible possible!

Read Pastor Abedini’s full letter below:

“Hello to my dear love and wife,

When I saw my family for the first time behind the glass walls, I could see my mom four meters away. As she approached me and saw my face, she broke down and could not get closer. She was crying. I understood what she felt because after weeks of being in solitary confinement in Evin Prison, I also got to see my face in the mirror of an elevator that was taking me to the prison hospital. I said hi to the person staring back at me because I did not recognize myself. My hair was shaven, under my eyes were swollen three times what they should have been, my face was swollen, and my beard had grown.

It was a few days ago when one of my family members, with weary eyes and after running around for 15 weeks in trying to get me out of prison, said that my dad says every single day that “this week I will get my son out of prison.” But this does not happen and he is not able to get me out of prison. In that instant I looked into the wrinkled and tired eyes of my dad. I could clearly see that he had ran around for months and he had no more strength left in him. It was very hard seeing my family in such a situation.

You, my wife, on the other side of the world, alone with the kids. Alone and worried. My family here in Iran, being interrogated, tired and under so much pressure.

With the loud voice of the prison guard, our visitation had ended and they put covers over our eyes and we returned to the dark room void of any natural sunlight.

I started praying for my family. My dear Naghmeh. You are the love of my life. I am always in love with you.

Dear Naghmeh, I have been stung so many times that I have become full of poison. This is an Iranian saying. A lot of people say that they have been stung by so many people that their whole being is full of poison like a poisonous snake. It means that we have been bitten by the snakes of this world so many times that, that all of the poison has collected in us and that we are like the poisonous snake. But if we sting anyone, we will die. This Iranian saying is full of spirit of revenge and unforgiveness and every time I would hear this in Iran, I would get very sick hearing it.

A few days ago they brought a young war veteran who was disabled in 80% of his body in my cell. He had been put in solitary confinement with his horrific condition. And this had made him very mad and he kept saying “why did they do this to me? I gave my whole life for their sake. See what they have done to me!!!” And when he would get very mad he would say “I will take my revenge!”

I spoke to this young man until 4 in the morning. I spent time with him and spoke to him to forgive. When we don’t forgive, we drink the poison ourselves and then wait for the other person to die. And we take the knife that has hurt us and we stab ourselves with it again! And this is the will of the evil one who wants to destroy us.

But when we forgive, we pour out the poison of the enemy and of the devil and we don’t let the poison stay in us and we don’t let the poison make us into poisonous snakes! So that we don’t become like the person we despised and who persecuted and tortured us.

Maybe you ask, what is the secret of being so happy in such a hard situation?

Forgiveness and a change of attitude. When we forgive, we become free and we become messengers of peace and reconciliation and goodness. And whoever stings us, we can take into our embrace and love them. And in this dark and evil time, we can live full of love and full of peace and full of joy and shine like the stars! Glory be to His Name.

I forgave the prison doctor who did not listen to me and did not give me the medication that I needed. I forgave the interrogator who beat me. Every day when I would see the interrogator and for the last time when I saw him, I forgave him. I smiled at him and with respect shook his hand and I said my goodbye. The minute I forgave them and loved them, that second I was filled with unspeakable joy. I saw in the eyes of the interrogator that he had come to respect me and as he was leaving, he could not look behind him. Love is as strong as death.

We have to get rid of the poison in our body because if we don’t, we will die. We have to get rid of both poisons; first the poison of the snake that bit us and also the poison in us that was created by that bite. We can get rid of the first poison by forgiveness and we can get rid of the second poison by humility, by dying to ourselves, and allowing the band-aid of love and goodness to replace the empty place of the wound. So that we are not a tool of darkness and revenge, but that we can be light and love and a vessel of forgiveness and we can be transformed in the process.

Surely you have someone in your family, city, work or environment that have become like poisonous snake who have bitten you and tried to make you poisonous. So, forgive them and use the antidote of love and be Victorious!

One of the chances of forgiveness came when I was blindfolded and a guard was holding my hand guiding me. He asked “what are you here for? What is your crime?” I said “I am Christian Pastor.” All of the sudden he let go of my hand and said “so you are unclean! I will tell others not to defile themselves by touching you!” He would tell others not to get close to me. It really broke my heart. The nurse would also come to take care of us and provide us with treatment, but she said in front of others “in our religion we are not suppose to touch you, you are unclean. Baha’i (religion) and Christians are unclean!” She did not treat me and that night I could not sleep from the intense pain I had. According to the doctor’s instructions, they would not give me the pain medication that they would give other prisoners because I was unclean.

I could not fall sleep one night due to the pain when all of a sudden I could hear the sound of dirty sewer rats with their loud noises and screeches. It was around 4 in the morning. It sounded like laughter in a way.

Even though many would call me unclean and filthy and would not even want to pass by me and they had abandoned me and they were disgusted to touch me because they were afraid that they would also become unclean, but I knew that in the eyes of Jesus Christ, and in the eyes of my brothers and sisters, I am like the sewer rat, beautiful and loveable – not disgusting and unclean – and like the rats I can scream with joy within those prison walls and worship my Lord in joy and strength.

The Joy of the Lord is my strength. Amen.”

Modeling Christ this Easter

This is the most important time in a Christian’s year. The death and resurrection of God’s beloved Son and our glorious King. 

However, we attend the church services and listen wholeheartedly to the sermons, but when the weekend is over we forget to live the lives from what we just learnt in church. We don’t walk the walk. How can we take the themes of Christ’s sacrifice for us and apply it this weekend, and ultimately extend it to the rest of our lives?

Obviously we have to encompass all of Christ’s goodness, purity and mind into our lives consistently; but I’ve chosen four themes to focus on this weekend, and really apply them diligently, so that by the time Easter is over I can have a stronger grasp of applying them: mercy, grace, forgiveness and love.

mercy-grace

“Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful” Luke 6:36
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” Matt 5:7
God has granted us overflowing mercy by providing us with redemption, but being merciful can be a tough one for anyone to master. Our flesh detests mercy and prefers to inflict physical and psychological harm!
How can we be merciful? A person who is merciful is basically compassionate. It is realising that we are all sinners and no one is perfect.
Mercy relates to grace. Mercy is not getting what you do deserve, while grace is getting what you don’t deserve. So forget the offence and hurt done against you. Do kind things without wanting to be thanked for them in return. Doing this glorifies God because we are obeying His commandments and are a reflection of His wonderful mercy.

forgive

Luke 6:37 “…Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Matt 6:14-15 “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.”
As humans, sometimes it feels like that if we don’t respond to an offense with bitterness, anger and even revenge, we have let the offender “get away with what they have done to us.”
But God let us get away with our sinful natures, through Jesus!  It is an alarming thought to me that if I don’t forgive someone God won’t forgive me! And I need a lot of forgiveness! That verse is so important to me that often I ask God to bring to my mind anyone I have not forgiven in my past or present, because sometimes we don’t even realise we are harbouring unforgiveness for someone.
Do you know what a simple test is? This is how I test myself: If you think you have truly forgiven someone, assess your reaction to them when you are in their presence (or even if you think about them) – how do you feel? What thoughts are going through your mind? If any thought or feeling is ungodly or works against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5), you need to ask God to help you to truly forgive that person. “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.”
Forgetting is not forgiving! It will creep up on you. But forgiving will help you forget it.

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“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16
God loves us through all our faults and weaknesses. His Son had to die for a wretched species. Yet He loves us still.
How can you honour God by showing love this weekend?
Love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). When your spouse or child, for example, does something to start welling up feelings of irritation in you, remember how God was patient with you 5 minutes ago when you sinned! My husband is such a wonderful model of kindness and patience for me. When I’m having a bad day and so desperately want to throw a tantrum, he always turns the other cheek, or gives me a hug and responds to me with gentleness. You will find that if you respond to the other person in an attitude of love and kindness, it very quickly diffuses the entire situation.

Dear Readers, I encourage you this weekend to model these themes with me of Christ’s sacrifice for us. Let us be a light to those around us so that the world can see what true Christianity is really all about – mercy and love to a lost world. Let our Father be glorified!