You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done… Genesis 50:20, NIV
Over the past few weeks, I have been struggling to process the words and actions of someone who is supposed to love me; these words and actions have brought about hurt, anger, resentment, and exhaustion in my life.
I know, as a Christian, that I am supposed to love my neighbor. I am supposed to obey Christ’s teaching that we find recorded in Luke 6:27-38:
27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
This is harder than it sounds. But I know that God doesn’t expect me to be able to do any of this on my own. It’s in His strength, through the comfort and guidance of the Holy Spirit, that I can even begin to forgive the person who hurts me. I can pray for that person, even ask God to bless that person. I can look that person in the eye and honestly say, “I love you” and mean it.
As as I do these things, God works in my own heart. He gently heals the hurt. He shows me that I have also caused hurt in others’ lives, and leads me to repentance. God prompts me to ask forgiveness of the person I have harmed. He shows me how to do the right thing next time. In all these ways, God is using the initial pain in my life to bring about good, “to accomplish what is now being done…”
What is now being done? God is refining my thoughts, healing my heart, and giving me even more to praise Him for!
The LORD is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him. ~ Exodus 15:2, NIV