“Take all the breath in my lungs,/ You’ll hear the rocks crying glory to God./ Take everything that I’ve got/ And you’ll see two empty hands lifted up./ You may silence me, but the cross forever speaks.”- Matt Maher
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied. “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”- Luke 19:39-40 (NIV)
It’s the winter of 1964-65. Mom’s lingering cold weighs heavily on her body and spirit. Sensing that something more seriously affects her lungs, she takes loving pre-pre-pre-Covid precautions to keep dad and me safe. Soon the diagnosis comes – tuberculosis. Back in the 1960s, that meant isolation in a sanitarium. For Dad and I, the diagnosis required TB skin testing and a prescription for Ioniazid. Thank God, our skin tests turned out negative.
Mom lived at a sanitarium in Hinsdale, IL, for the next 5+ months, eventually healing enough to receive weekend passes home. Yet, through her ordeal she never felt abandoned by God. Furthermore, she’d already survived the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 at age two, the Depression, and the death of both parents before she turned forty. Through strong, tested faith — like the rocks crying glory to God — her faith remained steadfast.
When someone hurts us deeply, we often experience a feeling of abandonment. Most significantly, we then extend that feeling to include God. In Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, author Lysa TerKeurst delineates five harmful attributes of unforgiveness that look enticingly good on paper. Because, Lysa wryly observes, “I am a soul who likes the concept of forgiveness . . . until I am a hurting soul who doesn’t.”
1. Cynicism. This security guard makes you believe that if you hope for less, it will protect you and prevent more pain. However, in reality this guard operates like a thief in disguise. It aims to steal every bit of closeness existing between you and those you love. Even worse, it steals authentic intimacy between you and God.
2. Bitterness. This effect masquerades as a high court judge. It counsels you to protect your evidence against all who hurt you. As a result, you’re able to state and restate your airtight case. In reality, it creates a punishing sentence of isolation.
3. Resentment. Here the goal = vindication. You believe the only way to rid yourself of your pain involves making sure those who caused it hurt as badly as you do. The truth? The dagger teeth of this trap dig deeper and deeper. Thus, this prevents you from moving forward.
4. Delay. Sneaks in like a theater attendant, offering you popcorn and a sorrow and sadness comfy chair. But as you replay old movies of what occurred over and over, each replay ratchets up the pain. And, each replay never provides the answers you keep thinking will come.
5. Trust issues. Disguise themselves as private investigators on a stealth mission. Hence, they profess to help you catch everyone out to hurt you and validate your view that no one’s truly honest with you. In truth, this toxic gas chokes the life out of your closest friends.
Above all, Lysa stresses, God’s Word offers forgiveness with skin on. Jesus comes for you with forgiveness pulsing through the very blood He shed on the cross. Certainly, Jesus issued a command to forgive. However, Lysa underscores, it’s not a cruel command. Rather, His command is God’s divine mercy for human hearts. Hearts so prone to turn hurt into hate. Therefore, hear the rocks crying glory to God. Manifest God’s mercy as you forgive others. Finally, Lysa adds these words of hope:
“Those who cooperate most fully with forgiveness are those who dance most freely in the beauty of redemption.”