As I’m preparing a talk to present to a church about the need for abortion recovery classes, I’m thinking about how we’re supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin. What comes to my mind is my own past and how one person in particular exemplified this for me.
Many years ago, I chose forgiveness for an abuser. This choice was based upon knowing that this is what God commanded and I blindly chose to obey. I had no idea of what that would look like, but I made the commitment to God. About six months after my choice, I had an encounter with him. It was different than it had been in the past. For the first time since I had met him, I didn’t hate being in his presence. I didn’t even realize it until my mentor at the time (who was the one who had led me in the prayer of forgiveness) asked me if things had changed.
The change was in me. I had a different reaction to being around him than I had in the previous 10+ years, and that was only the beginning! Fast forward approximately seven more years. God gave me a couple of divine appointments with him. First, he expressed deep remorse for the things that had happened in the past. I had the privilege of assuring him that I had forgiven him. Nothing specifically was addressed but there was an understanding that he was asking for forgiveness and I was freely offering it. Second, we were in the same church service where he had an opportunity to hear about God’s love. I was able to witness a deeply planted seed at that time as he answered an altar call.
The next memorable time was approximately 13 years later. Someone he had deeply wounded 25 years earlier now faced a life-threatening disease, long-term recovery, permanent damage, or even death. I had the responsibility of sharing with him some of the things that could happen to this person and I was confronted with a totally different response than I could’ve ever imagined. One of love and commitment.
Now, approximately 12 years later, I was reminded of all of these events. As I am writing this, I am reminded of how a simple act of choosing to forgive someone for such a terrible, terrible, thing, and allowing God to use it, has turned hatred for him to love for him. I still hate the sin but there’s definitely love and respect for the changes that God has brought about in his life.
Often times when I share my story people respond by saying, “I could never do that,” but in reality that’s what God calls us to do. What I would like to convey here is that when we truly do trust God and take our hands off these types of situations and allow Him to work, He can restore and bring beauty from ashes.
Have you allowed God to so permeate your forgiveness of those people who have hurt you that you can truly say you love them even if they have not repented?
Pam Durham, C.A.R.E. Director