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Thank the LORD!

“Don’t thank me, thank the LORD!”

That’s what some people say instead of, “You’re welcome.” When someone says, “Thank you,” these folks prefer to give credit where credit is due. They believe it’s because of the LORD’s generosity that they’re able to bless others. And, I concur.

Even though it’s wonderful to hear those words of gratitude, we’re not worthy to receive them. We’re not entitled to them. Just like praise and worship, those expressions belong to the LORD.

In this same way, we’re not worthy to receive expressions of repentance from those who have hurt us. Yes, apologies go a long way towards healing the pain caused by others, but we are not entitled to them. It’s that sense of entitlement that causes us to hold onto bitterness and anger.

Words and acts of repentance belong to the LORD. Why? Because Scripture tells us that what others have done to you, they have also done to the LORD. So, they must answer to Him, not necessarily to you.

But what about forgiveness?

If repentance belongs to the LORD, then why do we have to forgive? Well, forgiveness is an act of obedience to the LORD, not to yourself, and not to the one who caused you pain. Our forgiveness, like our repentance and our praise, belongs to Him. We owe that to Him.

Our forgiveness is not predicated upon someone else’s apology. We offer that up to the LORD so that He can help us to heal, and so that He can continue to operate through and within us. Forgiveness is the key that keeps the door open to all that the LORD has in store for us. It keeps the line of communication open with Him.

Conversely, unforgiveness does the exact opposite of these things. Holding onto our right to be angry means closing the door on the peace and love trying to enter. Waiting for an apology that may never come places us in the seat of judgment where we are not worthy to sit. And so, we forgive with or without it.

What if it still hurts?

Remember, that apology belongs to the LORD, not to you. Your healing comes from the LORD, not from that apology. We lay that pain right at the foot of the Cross and ask the LORD to wash it away with His Blood because that burden is too heavy for us to carry.

Now, take a deep breath and imagine leaving the weight of that pain right there, at the Blood-soaked base of the Cross at Calvary. Imagine the relief of that heavy load falling from your shoulders. Imagine standing up straight, and walking away from that bloody scene, one step at a time.

If you look behind you, you can still see the pain. Your feet feel heavy and caked up with mud. You can still feel the bitterness and resentment. Maybe you can even smell hatred and vengeance. But with each step, that stench gets further and further away.

Just keep on stepping

There may be clouds and downpours of rain along your path, but keep on stepping. It’s a cleansing rain. Over time, that scene of pain and anguish becomes a distant memory, but only if you let it.

Now, imagine that you’re far enough away that your eyes can no longer see the images in your distant rear view. Eventually, you stop looking back because what you see ahead of you is a bright, beautiful path towards your destiny. Your steps feel light as a feather, and the breeze has cleared the air. It smells like gardenias all around. The warmth of the sun embraces you.

You’ve walked for miles now, and you’re tired. You’re worn out, but no longer weighed down. It’s time for rest, so you lie down on the greenest, lushest bed of grass you’ve ever seen. And you sleep like you haven’t slept in years. Without anxiety or fear. Without doubt or worry. It’s a serene slumber. Full of peace.

You had forgotten what serenity feels like, but now you have an enormous appreciation for it. You no longer take peace for granted. You no longer take the sunshine and rain for granted. You see the grass and the breeze as miraculous now. Once again, your gratitude abounds. And because you have truly forgiven, now you can be truly healed.

Thank the LORD!