Life doesn’t always make sense, especially moments that hurt. It’s such a comfort to know that we have a Father in heaven who loves to restore what the enemy has stolen.
One beautiful tip for choosing healing can be found in the Book of Philemon, written by the Apostle Paul. Paul’s friend Philemon was a pastor whose runaway slave had met Paul and converted to Christianity. The former slave wanted to make things right with his former master, probably having some stolen goods, but he was afraid of being beaten if caught. So Paul penned a letter, beseeching the pastor to be kind for the sake of Christ. He also offered to help make things right.
“If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it (Philemon 1:18-19a),” Paul vowed.
This short letter offers a beautiful appeal to forgiveness, and tradition says that Philemon did forgive the former slave.
One day the Lord prompted me,
What if I wrote you this letter? Suppose I came to you asking, for the sake of our friendship, that you forgive someone who wronged you?
Suddenly I realized that Paul’s letter is a picture of what Jesus asks of us. He never reasons away guilt or denies the hurt caused.
Instead, he asks us to forgive for his sake. Then he goes a step further.
If your offender owes you anything, put that on my account. I will repay.
This idea is a powerful key to the forgiveness process!
“Father,” I often pray, “I choose to forgive this person because of how You’ve shown me mercy.”
Then I take a quick inventory of what I felt “robbed” of. Was my self-worth robbed? Did I feel taken advantage of? Am I feeling the loss of a friendship? Whatever it is, I know that my Father in Heaven desires wholeness for me. With this in mind, I’ll pray,
“Lord, I put these needs on your account and ask you to meet them. You are a good Father who delights to give us good gifts!”
I can’t tell you how many times God has responded to this prayer! By shifting my expectations to focus on God whose very name is Faithful and True, I’m practicing forgiveness and creating an opportunity for Christ to restore in his way and time.
He is the faithful Father!
*For deeper reflection, listen to Philemon 1.