Then Jacob went on ahead. As he approached his brother, he bowed to the ground seven times before him. Then Esau ran to meet him and embraced him, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him, And they both wept.Â Â Â Â Â Genesis 33:3-4 (NLT)
Do you remember the circumstances that brought Jacob and Esau to this point? Jacob is often seen as a â€˜pillar of the faithâ€™. He is but like all the rest â€“ not perfect! He was a sneaky deceiver who tricked his father and his brother, stealing the birthright. This was personal. This was a major blow (much like divorce!) in a family. Esau was ready to kill Jacob!
I believe Jacob had to go through some difficult, trying experiences before he was ready to turn on the path of forgiveness. He â€˜slavedâ€™ for seven years in order to marry the one he loved, Rachel. Deception came back to him as his uncle gave him, not Rachel, but his older daughter, Leah, in marriage. And Jacob did not find out that deception until after the wedding night! So he â€˜slavedâ€™ seven more years for Rachel. Then he had children from Leah but none from Rachel. When he left his uncle (no more slave labor!), he was hunted down and a confrontation occurred. And let us not forget that Jacob also wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22-28)
Wrestling with God before forgiveness is the natural order, I think, for us mortals. It is not in our nature to forgive when we are hurt and insulted. I can say, without hesitation, that every time I have heard God say, â€œForgiveâ€ I knew it was God. The â€˜wrestlingâ€™ wasnâ€™t about whether it was God. The wrestling was me trying to talk myself out of the knowledge that it was God! I knew it. I just didnâ€™t want to know it! I did not want to forgive. I felt I was letting the person â€˜off the hookâ€™; letting them â€˜get byâ€™ with something. What garbage! Whether the person is â€˜off the hookâ€™ for what they have done is between them and God. I have neither the wisdom to truly know their â€˜sinâ€™ nor the wisdom to determine any punishment! Holding that person in unforgiveness brings bitterness, frustration, anger, and general unhappiness. Do I really want to live in that garbage of feelings? Do I want that sludge to seep out to everyone around me? Itâ€™s like toxic waste!
Forgiveness is the path to freedom. It is a choice and a process. Often I may have to decide to forgive before I feel the mercy and grace to actually do it.
â€œOur Father, who lives in heaven, may your name always be held holy.
Your Kingdom will come and your will be done on earth as it now is in heaven.
Give me today all that I need.
Forgive my sins, LORD, just as I forgive others who have hurt me.
Keep me from falling into the snares of temptation and rescue me from the evil one.
If I forgive those who have â€˜sinnedâ€™ against me, then my Father will forgive me. But if I refuse to forgive them, my Father will not forgive me.â€ Â Â Matthew 6:9-15 (my paraphrase & emphasis)
As I let go of the hurt and release forgiveness, healing begins and I can grow beyond the pain. Is there someone that I (you) need to forgive today in order to move on? Letâ€™s just do it.
I need Your help, Jesus. (pause) Thanks, LORD.