(Ephesians 4:26 NIV)
After finally learning to accept God's decisions to allow pain and suffering into my life, and discovering the wonderful changes that God was creating in my character, because of those hardships, it was time for a new lesson.
I currently have several friends who've fought varying kinds of cancer and won. The Lord has healed them. I also have friends and family who lost their battle with cancer and are with the Lord today. My father is one of them. I had cancer too, only it was the self-imposed sort. The Lord has educated me on how to defeat this rottenness.
Looking back at my own anger, it looks so ugly and awful. Hey I had a right to be angry, didn't I? No one could argue with the fact that I'd been done wrong. My heart was torn to shreds and stomped on. The woman I loved was unfaithful several times and had rejected my sacrificial love for her. I lost all my worldly possessions and been rejected by friends, family and my home church. The stigma of divorce clung to me like leprosy.
The most malignant carcinogen I know of is bitterness and anger. My soul was rotting away from its deadly effects. I had the cancer of animosity and resentment—the spirit polluting hostility of anger. I refused to forgive. Everything that had happened to me was not my fault. I was a victim of circumstances, yet I was still ostracized. No one was forgiving me, why should I forgive them?
It's so easy to feel sorry for ourselves. We tend to blame our parents or a teacher or the one who abused us in some way. Yes they may have done wrong, but what is it they say about two wrongs, that they don't make a right? Besides, bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for someone else to die!
The Lord revealed to me how I was only perpetuating the problem. My unforgiveness was just as wrong as what had been done to me. And I was suffering for it—self imposed cancer.
Praise God, He has taught me that I don't have to live like that. I don't have to suffer those horrible feelings anymore! I don't have to rob myself of joy and peace.
Anger injects an illusory subterfuge into the human psyche. It says, "It feels good to be angry—you want to be angry." While the whole time I'm not feeling good at all. I was miserable. It robbed me of joy and peace. So why did I cling to such a thief so tightly? How was I fooled into believing that I wanted those negative emotions? Obviously there are other powers at work, making the lie sound plausible and tasty, when the acrid taste of that hatred and those malevolent thoughts were actually turning my stomach.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." (Ephesians 4:31 NIV)
Satan is not some guy poofing in and out of the picture clad in a red suit with horns and a funny pointed tail. I don't know what he looks like, but I know he used to be very beautiful when he was Lucifer. Now he is Satan and bears the hideous appearance of evil. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. He is the deceiver, accuser and the murderer of my good feelings. He is the one who will do anything to keep us deceived into not forgiving those who have wronged us.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1Peter 5:5 NIV)
It is not for the sake of those who harm us that God says we are to forgive them. No, it is for our own benefit.
It wasn't until God allowed me to view my own ugliness of character while under the influence of such an unforgiving attitude, that my head cleared from the deceiving effects of the drug of anger. Yes it's like a drug that gives the illusion of euphoria. But it never satisfies. It only creates a hunger for more of the same negative emotions. Those emotions never made me happy. They only brought more and more misery. Oh I'd love to punch that smirk right off the devil's face. But Jesus will do that for me.
Yet our God is all knowing and all powerful. He knew how to teach me and lead me in discovering the truth behind my attitudes. Oh praise God that I have a relationship with my creator!
"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." (Psalm 25:5)
Of course in my human strength I was completely unable to forgive. But when God gives a command, he also gives the ability to carry it out. Forgive was the order.
"Lord, I cannot but you can. I now desire to obey this command. I speak it! I forgive so and so, and this person and that person. I forgive everyone who has ever sinned against me."
That's when the supernatural power of omnipotent God took over. Removing the acrid bitterness from my heart, He replaced it with His divine love! I found myself singing praises for being freed from the clutches of such deception. Then, I found the searing heat of love for my offenders there, and I prayed.
"Oh Lord forgive them for what they did to me. I no longer want them to suffer. Grant them your grace and mercy. Let them have this love too!"
Now the results were streaming in. The greatest joy I'd ever experienced bubbled up from inside me. Peace of heart and mind flowed like a river from every pore. Jesus Christ is the real deal! The euphoria He gives is not some cheap imitation, but is complete and eternal.
"I am free!"
These days I pray, "Lord please help me to distinguish the enemy—to know how to answer every man or woman. Grant me spiritual eyes to see the battle from afar off and prepare for those attacks. May I have eyes to see dangers ahead and the wisdom to respond in grace—the same kind of grace and mercy you have given to me. Help me to never again harbor bitterness and anger, but to forgive others just as you have forgiven me."
Satan still comes to remind me of all the sins other people have perpetrated against me. And I tell him to go jump in the lake of fire! I have the love of Jesus and nothing is better for me.
Many waters cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned. (Song of Solomon 8:7)