Many of us have spent 2020 in lockdown and social distancing because of Covid-19. While some of us are doing ok during these difficult times, many of us feel like our freedom has been taken away from us. We feel caved in, unable to get out, and this is causing us to feel stress, anxiety, anger, and depression. We are yearning for the world we used to know, where we could visit others, work, go to church, or even go on vacation. We are yearning to be free.
Some of us are in a spiritual lockdown and we don’t even know it. We can be imprisoned by our inability to forgive others. Maybe someone betrayed you, gossiped about you, sought to destroy your hard work, or hurt you beyond forgiving. Perhaps you even thought to yourself, “I can never forgive this person for what he or she did to me.” Could your bitterness be seeping into your life, into your decisions, into your relationships? God wants us to be free from bitterness (Eph. 4:31).
I have been hurt and betrayed by other people, and what made it worse was that there was no apology. I knew I had to forgive them, and I did, but the emotional wounds stayed. I held on to my wounds, letting them fester. This emotional pain imprisoned me. For years, I struggled in this prison that confined me. Daily, I would pray, “Lord please take away the pain, it is too much to bear.” Sometimes I prayed that short prayer multiple times a day.
Then one day, at a conference, I heard a pastor’s wife preaching about forgiving those who hurt us and about surrendering our wounds to Christ. That day, she prayed for me, and I surrendered myself and my pain to Jesus. After the conference I came home without pain. About six months later there was this voice inside of me saying, “Do you remember what this people did to you and your husband? You have the right to be angry at them.” I knew who was speaking to me. I said, “Get away from me, Devil, I already forgave these people and you have no right to come and say that. Go away and never come back because Jesus already took my pain and healed me.”
So, what about you? Do you feel like you are in a mental prison with no way out? What is your prison and what keeps you in that prison? Do you believe you have the right to stay angry? Is your pride keeping you from forgiving or seeking forgiveness?
You can forgive, and forgiving will set yourself free. The other person will have to deal with his or her own sins of hurting you (Romans 12:19). Forgive and surrender yourself to Jesus so that He sets you free from your pain and heals you from the emotional pain you have. Once you surrender your pain, the pain may not disappear overnight. Healing emotional wounds may take years. But if you trust in Jesus and allow Him to help and heal you, you will get a little better each day. Each day, let Jesus remind you that He has freed you. Speak His truth in your everyday life. Use scripture to fight against the bitterness, the negative thoughts. “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free” (Psalm 118:5).
If we keep picking on our scabs, we will not heal. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t think about the pain or that we shouldn’t be angry. At first, we need to understand how the pain affected us, how it blinded us from the truth, or even how that pain now affects our relationship with other people. But, once we have forgiven, we need to be reminded that bitterness is not the prison Jesus wants us to be in. Instead of thinking about what people did to you, think about how much Jesus loves you and that He died on the cross for your sins, for your freedom from sin. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 NIV).
When we are free from our pain and bitterness, we can use our story of freedom to help others. There are many people around us who need a shoulder to cry on, compassionate heart, good listening ears, mouths with encouraging words, a hug of love, a smile that lights up someone’s dark world, hands that bring healing touch to someone’s brokenness, and feet that bring peace to a frustrated life. Are you willing to be an instrument for Jesus to use to bring freedom to other people? Don’t wait for people to come to you but see people through Jesus’ eyes, reach out to them and show them how much you care. Take the time to disciple them so they will come to know Jesus Christ and be set free.
True (N. Kx. Ntshab Ntxawg) Soung
True Soung is married to Jerry Soung (Kx. Ntshab Ntxawg Xoom) for 36 years. She loves to disciple people.