Extending Forgiveness

Steve Arterburn

 

 

Emotional pain never dies of natural causes. Old age doesn’t sap its strength. And you can’t bury it alive. If you try, it’ll kick and scream until you acknowledge it, feel it, and work through it. And working through it usually requires you to forgive. Of course, you can try ignoring the pain ‘ we call that denial. And this may work’to some extent and for some short period of time. But the only way to get it out of your heart is through forgiveness.

Unexpressed grief festers and swells, waiting to erupt. It may explode in uncontrollable rage, gush out in unstoppable tears, seep out in unexplainable depression, or ooze internally, resulting in undiagnosed illness. But men, the one thing you can be absolutely sure of is this: pain you’ve shoved deep down never leaves on its own.

People carry all kinds of pain from disappointments, failures, betrayals, and losses. In our hectic world, the most efficient and acceptable way of dealing with emotional pain is to get yourself so busy that you simply have no time to think about it. This eases your discomfort, so you can carry on, seemingly no worse for wear. The avoidance of pain, however, will keep you from going through the process of forgiveness. When you refuse to feel the full impact of your pain, you don’t allow it to do its necessary work on your character.

Men, please don’t settle for temporary and inadequate fixes. Extending forgiveness is the only real way toward healing.

Contemplating The Almighty

Steve Arterburn

 

 

Think about what it means to say that God is almighty. On the one hand, if His power wasn’t expressed to us by love, we’d think He was a monster. We’d have every reason to try to run and hide from Him. Since the almighty God is at the same time the all-loving, all-wise, and all-just God, we’re foolish to resist Him. We actually have every reason to fall down before Him in worship and praise, trusting He is the Almighty and all-loving God.

Men, this is who God has revealed Himself to be. And when we surrender to Him, He becomes our protector’our refuge. David, king of Israel, wrote in Psalm 91:1-2:

‘Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.’

Surrender to God brings peace’peace produced and preserved by His strength. Under your own rule, you’re subject to the insecurity of self-reliance. Under God’s rule, you’re anchored to the One the psalmist described as ‘the Rock.’ And that Rock is steadfast, unmovable, and completely worthy of our trust.

Let me put it another way: if you and I fail to fear God, we are left being afraid of everything. On the other hand, if we fear God, we need never be afraid of Him’nor anything else.

Denial

Steve Arterburn

Men, you all know someone close to you’someone you’d trust with your life’but someone who struggles to tell you the truth. That ‘someone’ is you! And this self-directed deception is called denial. The Complete Life Encyclopedia defines denial as ‘an inability to see the truth about oneself’. Here’s what denial is: it’s a lie you tell yourself, and after you tell it, you cling to it and believe it.

We all struggle with denial. And it blurs your vision of many things’troubled or destructive relationships, sins you’re unwilling to acknowledge, overly optimistic goals, financial irresponsibility, physical illness, unresolved character issues, self-righteousness, and any number of situations you’d rather not see clearly.

But guys, if you seriously desire spiritual renewal, you must bring the all of your life under the umbrella of God’s grace. Even those areas you’ve closed off, and especially the lies you’ve tried to convince yourself are true.

One of the reasons denial is so dangerous is not only does it blind you to the problems you’re trying to avoid, but it also blinds you to the consequences that avoidance creates. The moment you open your eyes and see things clearly, accurately, and truthfully, you’ll also see the troubling results of your denial.

Yeah, you’re likely to fight with discouragement, and the urge to seek diversions and other ways to feel good. But these are cop-outs: denial in disguise. My challenge to you is that you allow your recognition of the truth to spur you to repentance, and then, to a joyful, grateful response to Him of service.