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Won’t God protect his chosen ones who pray to him day and night? Won’t he be concerned for them? Luke 18:7 (CEV)

Someday, when this life on earth is over, I’ll cross over into the presence of my Lord Jesus. I don’t really know what awaits me or how it all works. I only know who will be there and that is enough for me.

When I get there, my plan is to spend the first 1-2 million years worshiping him at his feet. Gazing into those eyes of love I’ve waited to see for so long. Examining the scars on his hands and feet and the scar on his side, the very markings that made it possible for me to even enter his presence, much less spend eternity with him.

After those 1-2 million years are over, I’d like to ask him a few questions, respectfully of course and in extreme love. I want to ask Jesus why so many of us have prayed for healing only to see that healing come in the way of the grave, while other people pray for healing and see miraculous, unexplainable healing.

I want to ask him why some kids from very good families make choices that harm their family and themselves, while at the same time kids from very dysfunctional families make good choices that glorify God.

I want to ask him why so many women and children are abused when they are surrounded by loving, praying, caring friends. And why natural disasters and political upheavals and financial greed were allowed to run so rampantly when so many people prayed against it.

There are so many other questions I want to ask Jesus when I get there. Then again, maybe not. While I consider all the pain of my own life, the stupid choices I’ve made, the rebellious, selfish, harmful decisions that affected my life, I realize that in so many ways my prayers have been answered.

I don’t understand why things happen the way they do. I wish he would answer my prayers in my time and in my way. But his timing is always best. We see tragedies in life in need of ‘fixing’ for life to be complete. He sees opportunities in life to draw us closer to him. When the bad stuff happens we can choose to be angry (and miserable) or trusting (and at peace). His goal is for a life of peace in the midst of the struggles. His desire is for us to experience the forgiveness and freedom of grace.

Christian Author, Max Lucado says, in his book ‘A Gentle Thunder’, “Though you hear nothing he is speaking. Though you see nothing he is acting. With God there are no accidents. Every incident is intended to bring us closer to him.”

I may not understand why bad things happen in this world, but my trust is in the one who loves me and promises to meet my needs.

PRAYER: Father God, there are some many times that I am confused by what happens in life around me. Prayers seem to go unanswered. Relationships fail. Bills increase while income decreases. In the midst of all this, I trust your promises. Empower me to trust you for all my needs. Thank you for Jesus. I can’t wait to see him face to face. Amen.

But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:25-26 (NLT)

It’s tucked away, almost hidden, within Jesus’ teaching on prayer. The disciples were looking for answers. Jesus had just stated that using the power of prayer the disciples had the ability to move mountains. Then, almost as though He read their minds He answered a question that hadn’t been answered.

It’s as if one (or more) of the disciples was thinking: “I pray. I have faith in you. I believe. I don’t want to move mountains. I just want to understand my kids!” Jesus tells them that to have real power, to see God move mightily in your life and in the lives of others around you, here is the secret. Forgive.

Unresolved conflict and anger bind us and our prayer lives. When we harbor grudges, judgmental attitudes and a critical spirit against someone else it keeps Gods power from manifesting itself through us.

It’s interesting to note what Jesus doesn’t say in this passage. He doesn’t tell the disciples to “Go and have a conversation with the person and tell them you forgive them.” His statement concerns His followers DURING their prayer time. While they are praying, during the very process of their time with the Heavenly Father, forgive.

Forgiving others does not condone what they have done to you. If you have been abused, especially emotionally, the abuser won’t admit to anything anyway. It doesn’t require any action on the part of the perpetrator of your wound.

Forgiveness of others is between you and God. No one else needs to be involved. While there may be times when God will eventually lead you to confront the person you need to forgive, it really is an agreement between you and your Heavenly Father to release yourself from their grip of hate, anger or pain.

Forgiveness frees you. When you are angry at someone, it could be because of some intentional act on their part, or something that they did unintentionally, it causes a wound that refuses to heal. Forgiveness is a healing salve that comforts and soothes. Forgiveness is for your benefit, not the benefit of anyone else.

Forgiveness is humanly initiated, yet supernaturally accomplished. Sometimes the pain we endure is so great that we have to come to the Father over and over again to confess our inability to let go of the pain that was caused. The first step to healing is to confess our pain and anger to God and ask Him to empower you to forgive. From that point forward it is His working in you, and in the situation to free you from the horrific bondage of a wounded soul.

Forgiveness takes time. It isn’t some magic oil that you apply once to the wound and it’s gone. When you bear a grudge or have been hurt in some way it is like a physical wound, in some cases worse than that. Just as the wound take time to heal, forgiveness takes time to work its way through the pain. Be patient. Don’t allow the abuse or mistakes of your past to imprison you. Let the healing salve of forgiveness free you for all God has in store.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I never thought I’d have to admit to you that I harbor hatred towards others. Some of my hatred is because of what has been done to my loved ones. Some of it is because of direct or indirect attacks from others. Some of it, I confess, is a result of my inability to remember that I’m your child and I’ve allowed others to attack who I am in you. Help me to forgive. Empower me with your Spirit today to free myself from the prison others have me in. Show me grace so that I can show it to others. Thank you for loving me. Amen.

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