Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Forgiveness--the Pain Reliever

Leslie Basham: Pain and heartache are inevitable parts of life. Whether they mean to or not, people are going to hurt you. That is the bad news. But, here is the good news. With forgiveness comes healing. It is Monday, June 21; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

When you get a scratch or a scrape, what is the first thing you reach for? A Band-Aid, right? But, what do you do for those internal injuries, the kind of wounds you get when someone lies to you, mistreats you or abuses you in some way? All this week, Nancy will tell us about the wonderful pain reliever which God calls forgiveness. Let us join Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I will never forget the day, several years ago, when I was leading a women's conference. At one point, we opened up the microphone for some testimonies. A woman came to the "mike" and proceeded to tell the story that fourteen years earlier, her adult daughter had been stalked and then viciously murdered by a man that she did not know. Then, the women at the microphone, the mother of this daughter, turned to me and with deep anguish and emotions and said, "I have hated this man for 14 years. How can I forgive? How can I forgive?"

Now, those of you who are mothers, and even those who are not, can only begin to imagine something of the anguish that this mother had experienced. Your experience may have been something comparable or it may have been something that would not compare; but to you, it is serious. It has been a deep pain, a wound of your past or maybe even something that you are walking through at this very moment.

I think of the woman who came to me with a very different set of circumstances, but it relates to this whole area of hurt. She said, "I feel like a robot Christian. I have shut God out of my life, and I am just going through the motions because of all the hurts."

This whole issue of pain, hurt and wounds is one that concerns us all. It is one we all have experienced. We all have a story; if it is not about our own deep pain and wounds, we know people who are close to us and whom we love, whom we want to help and encourage so they will know how to walk through the hurts and pains in life.

As we started out, the fact is that everyone will get hurt. It cannot be avoided. We will be wronged. You say, "That does not sound very encouraging." But, we need to remember that it is something that we cannot escape. There is going to be pain in this world. It is a fallen world; it is a sinful world.

Whether you are old or young or whatever your circumstances are in life, there is going to be hurt. There are going to be people who wrong you, people who treat you in ways that they should not.

You may have been hurt by a trusted friend who lied to you or lied about you to someone else. You may have been hurt by a teacher or professor in college or even when you were younger, a teacher embarrassed you in front of a whole classroom. It may still just kind of lodge in your heart and in your mind today as we talk about hurt.

You may have been hurt by someone who cheated you or who stole from you or from your family. Perhaps, it was by a parent who rejected you, one who did not know how to express love and expressed just the opposite of love.

Or maybe your hurt comes from a child who has rebelled and has embarrassed you and your family name. It may be because of something someone else did to one of your children.

I know, as a mother, it is easier to take someone hurting you than it is for you to take someone hurting one of your children. I see some heads nodding. You feel pain when someone wrongs your children. You may have been hurt by an employer who wronged you or wronged your mate.

Maybe it was from a spiritual leader that you trusted and that person turned out not to be the real thing. It may have come from the other direction. A woman came to me a week or so ago and she said, "How do you forgive a whole church?"

She is a pastor's daughter and she said that last year, the church threw out her father as the pastor. They sinned against him. They wronged him. They are still talking about him, and there are still broken relationships as a result. She has been hurt.

There are women in this room who have been hurt by a father or a relative who has stolen your moral innocence and who used you sexually. There are women in this room who went to the altar with stars in their eyes to hear a man promise to love you "till death do you part." That dream has turned into a nightmare; and it has ended up in disappointment, loss and rejection. There are hurts and wounds in life.

I know some of the things I just named are huge issues, and some of them you do not even want to mention. When it happens to you, at that moment, and sometimes as you remember back on that hurt or that wound or that pain, the pain can be as fresh today in some ways as perhaps it was 20, 30 or more years ago.

The fact is, we will get hurt; we will be offended. We are a generation of wounded people today. As I talk with women and look into their eyes, I see the scars, the wounds and the impressions left on their faces by deep hurt and pain.

In fact, one of the things I hear more and more often from women in recent years is the statement, "I'm angry," and then they reveal to whom they are angry. "I am angry at my husband; I am angry at my parents; I am angry at my children; I am angry at my pastor."

I do not remember hearing this one years ago as often as I am hearing it today. But I hear, "I am really angry at God." Ultimately, these wounds and bitterness, if not dealt with in God's way, will turn into anger against God.

After all, if He is supposed to be all powerful, He could have stopped this. He did not; why did He not? I cannot trust a God, many women think, who would let this happen in my life.

There are so many women with wounded spirits, who are harboring deep hurts. When they harbor these hurts in their hearts and do not deal with them God's way, they become smoldering bitterness which turns to anger, hatred and even revenge and violence in some cases.

That is what we are seeing in our schools today. Some of you are afraid to send your children off to school. You have heard it said, "The most dangerous animal in the forest is the one that has been wounded."

Not to make excuses for any of our violent ways; but the fact is, so many of us, one generation after another, have responded to hurts and wounds by turning around and wounding and hurting others.

Perhaps, you have even experienced it as a mother, where you have felt wounded from your childhood; then, you found yourself turning around and saying things to your own children that you never thought you would say, things that you knew would hurt their spirits. It may be that you never dealt with the wounds of your past God's way.

As I move into this series on the whole issue of forgiveness and dealing with the wounds and hurts of our past, I want to start by saying that not only is it inevitable that we will get hurt; but we are going to have to deal with it.

Here is another basic principle that I think is helpful: the outcome of our lives--the way we turn out and who we are--is not determined by what happens to us. Many times, we think we are simply the way that we are.

We have certain responses that we do, we parent our children the way we do because of something that happened to us, because of the way we were parented or because of the way someone else dealt with us. I am just that way because of this aspect of my past.

But the fact is that the outcome of our lives and who we are is not determined by what happens to us. What has happened to us certainly has an effect upon us; it influences us. But, it cannot control who we become. The fact is who we are and the outcome of our lives is determined by how we respond to what happens to us.

You may be thinking, That is not very encouraging; that is not very good news because now you tell me I am responsible. I thought that if at least I could think someone else was responsible, maybe this would not hurt so badly. But, now you are saying that it is my fault.

Well here is why that is good news: If the outcome of my life is determined by things over which I have no control--the way people have treated me, have with dealt me or things that have been done to me--then, I am a hopeless victim. There is no hope for me.

If I have no control over the outcome of my life, then I have to remain the way that I am.

But, realize that we, by God's grace and as children of God, can choose, by the power of God's Spirit, how we respond to what happens to us. There is hope in that because God will give us grace to choose to respond in ways that are pleasing to Him, and that will set us free from the bondage of our past.

Every time you and I are wronged, we choose how we are going to respond to that offense. There are essentially two ways of responding to hurt. The first way is how most people respond, and that is they become a debt collector. What do they do? They hold the offender hostage.

They say, "You wounded me. And I am not going to let you go until you acknowledge how deeply you have hurt me." They put their offenders in a debtor's prison. I should not really say "they;" I should say, "we," because we have all responded this way to hurt at times.

When we become debt collectors, ultimately that pathway leads to resentment and bitterness. It is the pathway of retaliation; I will get even. We may not do it overtly. But we are withholding love and holding that anger and bitterness in our hearts. We are going to see that when we become debt collectors, we actually end up putting ourselves in prison.

We are going to focus, over these next sessions, on responding in God's way to the wounds and hurts of our past. Essentially, this is a pathway of releasing our offenders from prison, letting them go, setting them free.

I want to stress that we let them go not because they necessarily deserve it, not because they have necessarily come back and said, "I realized I was wrong. Will you forgive me?" They may never realize that. But we release them, not because they deserve it but because of God's incredible grace.

God's grace is undeserved. And as we have received God's grace, we extend His mercy and grace to others. This is the path of non-retaliation, of reconciliation. We choose which pathway we will take.

Leslie Basham: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been helping us view forgiveness as a choice. She will be right back to pray that we will have the strength to forgive.

Now, maybe you think that this topic is not for you. But think about it. Have you experienced any of these hurts?

Various voices: She broke a promise. He is filing for a divorce. She lied to me. My grown children never even call me. I cannot believe he was cheating on me. 

Leslie Basham: When you think about those who have hurt you, do you still feel angry? Do you secretly wish something bad would happen to them?

Voices: They cheated me out a lot of money. He has become an alcoholic. The abuse still feels like it was just yesterday. It was so embarrassing.

Leslie Basham: If you think there is a possibility that you might be harboring unforgiveness in your heart, we hope you will get a free booklet by Nancy called Freedom through Forgiveness. It helps you identify people who have wronged you, helps you evaluate your heart toward those people and leads you through scriptures about forgiveness and healing.

Voices: The hurt is so real, but I choose to forgive. I choose to forgive. By God's grace, I will forgive.

Leslie Basham: The booklet, Freedom through Forgiveness is free during our current series. To order, just call 1-800-569-5959.  Or, go to ReviveOurHearts.com or ask for it by mail.

Write to Revive Our Hearts. Tomorrow, we will learn one really good reason why we should forgive. We hope you can be back with us. Now, here is Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Father, we all acknowledge that we have had hurts and wounds in our past. Some of us in this room are living through some painful circumstances right now in our lives. There are people who are offending us, who are sinning against us. I pray that You will teach us how to forgive and set us free, Lord, even as we set our debtors free. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Leslie Basham:

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.